Class 8 Transcript: A Gift of Liberation 36: Love in the Time of the Virus (2020)


Hi, welcome back to our retreat together. I like to call it Sending the Virus to the Middle of the Sun. It would be a beautiful thing to do. So now we’re going on with the quotations.

‘JAM DPAL RTZA RGYUD LAS, which means, Pabongka Rinpoche is going to quote a famous tantra and this is the Tantra of Manjushri. It’s called what we call a root tantra, which means it’s the original tantra from which the practice of Manjushri came. Then normally you get lots of secondary tantras by the Buddha, and then you get a pile of commentaries in the Tengyur, then you get a bigger pile of commentaries by Tibetan wise people. That’s normally the process. So we’re going straight back to the original Tantra, to the beginning of Tantra, and it says:


Now people who may be very serious spiritual practitioners in the sense of spending a lot of time in retreat or learning the great books, learning Tibetan, trying to master all these things, but if they’re not nice to other people—if they don’t treat other people sweetly ,SNGAGS ‘GRUB PAR NI MA GSUNGS TE, the Buddha never said they could practice Tantra. The Buddha never gave permission for those people to practice the Diamond Way. ,MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS GRONG ‘GRO, ,MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS GRONG going to the city of Nirvana ,YUL DANG PHYOGS KYANG MA YIN NO, they are not going to the right destination and they’re not even headed in the right direction. Okay? So it’s like if you’re going from Sedona to the major city of Rimrock and you start heading the opposite way west. Then you’re headed the opposite way from from Rimrock and you have to go around the world to get to Rimrock. The same for secret teachings—if you don’t treat other people sweetly then not only are you not going to reach Rimrock, you’re going to go exactly in the wrong direction.


,BYIS PA NGAN PA ‘DI LA NI, ,SNGAGS ‘GRUB PA NI GA LA YOD, ,SKYE BO TSUL KHRIMS ‘CHAL ‘DI LA, ,DE LA BDE ‘GRO GA LA YOD. It means … he calls those people who try to practice tantra and who don’t treat other people nice “naughty kids”. So here you have Manjushri in the original Manjushri Tantra saying, “those naughty kids who say they’re going to practice tantra, how can they if they’re not treating other people nice?” GA LA YOD, means “totally impossible”! ,SKYE BO TSUL KHRIMS ‘CHAL ‘DI LA, if people aren’t nice to other people ,DE LA BDE ‘GRO GA LA YOD, they won’t even come back to a higher rebirth. I mean, they’ll be born as an insect or something if they practice tantra. ,MTHO RIS SU YANG MI ‘GYUR ZHING, ,BDE BA MCHOG TU’ANG MI ‘GYUR NA, they won’t even come back to a human birth ,BDE BA MCHOG TU’ANG MI ‘GYUR NA, much less the highest kind of happiness.

,RGYAL BAS GSUNGS PA’I SNGAGS RNAMS NI, ,’GRUB PAR ‘GYUR BA SMOS CI DGOS, then how can these people who are not nice to other people, they’re trying to practice tantra … they say they’re practicing tantra and then they hurt other people, they’re not even going to come back as a human. They’ll come back as a grasshopper. He said, “what kind of tantra is that if you practice it and you become a grasshopper?” It’s probably not the highest teachings that can make you a Buddha in one lifetime. Alright, I went and got the quotation as usual. And it’s, the full Sanskrit name of this Manjushri Tantra is Arya Manjushri Mullah Tantra. It has the same quotation. MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS GRONG … By the way our prediction of the correct pronunciation is correct—MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS GRONG. So the Tibetan here has a mistake in the Lam Rim. So this is the benefit of all you guys working so hard, especially Gold Club, Jade Club, to help support John Brady’s project. Great, great work. And because of that project I can easily go to the original tantra and give you some dessert on top of this quotation.

,TA LA’I SHING GI MGO PA NI; ;GANG TSE BCAD PAR GYUR PA NA’ANG, SNGON PO NYID KYI SKAL MED NA, ,MYU GU NAM ZHIG ‘BYUNG BAR ‘GYUR, If you cut the top off a tree, which we’re going to show here in a picture and it took me a while to find this picture. I had it very clear … the words are very clear and this is what it would look like—a tree cut in half. If you cut the top off of a tree, let’s say it’s an apple tree or something—he gives the example of a palm tree. If you cut off the top, SNGON PO NYID KYI SKAL MED NA, how’s it ever going to grow any branches? MYU GU NAM ZHIG ‘BYUNG BAR ‘GYUR—where would the branches come out? Where would the tender shoots of your enlightenment come out if you chopped the top half of the tree off? So that’s an interesting example because “treating other people nice” … he could do the normal thing and say, “oh, this is the foundation of all secret practice” or “this is the root of all secret practice”, but he for some reason, which I guess you guys can discuss in your discussion groups, flips the image around. He doesn’t say you’ve destroyed the roots, he said you’ve destroyed the whole upper half of the fruit tree. So how can you expect any fruits out of it? How can you even expect any small branches to start growing? You’ve destroyed your chances for apples if you cut off the top 50% of the tree.


YANG ‘GA’ ZHIG GIS NGES ‘BYUNG BYANG SEMS YANG DAG PA’I LTA BA GANG YANG MED PAR Then some people they try to practice without the three principal paths. Those of you who have taken the ACI courses, this is the whole subject of the first ACI course is the three principal paths. You can call them (1) renunciation, (2) bodhichitta, and (3) correct view. I think It’s not very friendly English. I think the first one is: “I’m tired of this kind of life”. “I’m tired of seeing people die”. “I’m tired of seeing things fall apart.” “It’s just to much, I’m tired of it.” That’s the first one.

The second one is: “and I wish nobody else had to go through these things either”. “I wish we could all become enlightened.” “I wish I could do something to help every living being in the universe.” By the way, that’s the kind of attitude that we’re going to use in the meditations to try to send the virus into the middle of the sun. We’re going to overkill. We’re going to do prayers for all the people in the universe, then something as small as a virus is definitely going to get killed by this. Prayers that are as big as the universe and I’m speaking literally.

And then the YANG DAG PA’I LTA BA means: “just see that in the kitchen, that the husband that you were upset at was never there“. I think those are three friendly ways to say renunciation, bodhichitta, and correct view. Or you could say, “I’m tired of all this and I’m tired of seeing my friends suffer, and it’s all based on some kind of crazy belief in someone who’s not even there”. “I would like to fix this.”


Now, he says MED PAR, in the second line here. Which means some people have never heard of these three attitudes—these three principal paths of Buddhism—they never got there. SEMS NGO BSKYANGS PA’I SGOM ZHIG LA they try to do this kind of meditation, and it’s a mistaken meditation where you watch your mind and you don’t watch it for signs of thinking that the husband comes from his own side. You’re not watching for signs of that, you’re just watching the mind think and that’s called SEMS NGO BSKYANGS PA. It’s a meditation that’s a mistaken meditation where you sit and watch your mind think and how long you stay at that, MI TSE BSKYAL BA means people waste their whole life—people spend years staring at a wall or trying to think that their mind is empty or something like that. He says, BRTZON PA DON MED DU SONG—it is completely useless effort. BRTZON PA means effort. DON MED means meaningless, there’s no point to it. It’s like fishing in your bathtub or something, for tuna or something. It’s not ever going to happen. It’s not possible. It’s just weird.

SONG BA STE, DES NI RAB NA MI G-YO BA’I LAS SU ‘GRO TSUL SOGS And our Lama, he went on, he went off, probably on the lion’s dance, he said, look, the first eight levels of the lions dance if you just do that, all you can do is collect a certain kind of karma that will… it’s called unshifting karma. Why do you call it that? It cannot be diverted, un-diverted karma, and it means if you collect that karma, normally you are born into the form realm or the formless realm. And you spend a long time there, and you waste your time and then you go to the hell realms. So, he says, “it wastes your whole life and it wastes the many lifetimes after that, and wastes many eons after that”. Then BSKYAR BSHAD. BSKYAR BSHAD means BCAS STZAL, which means then our lama wrapped things up. He went to a summary. He wrapped things up and Yay, we finished another day in the original teachings. Okay, which is a big deal.

The original teachings are 24 days total. Pabongka Rinpoche went on for 24 days. We’re going to do something similar with this lamrim. I mean this month. There were 24 days total of teaching. We started this lamrim series 10 years ago or roughly, by doing the last two days—day 23 and 24. Because these are how to meditate and how to see emptiness. So we thought it would be cool to start with those two and then we would do the lamrim from the beginning. I just stopped to give you a progress report. Now we’re about to start day 16. But really we finished two extra days, so now we’re starting day 19. So in 19, 20, 21, 22 … we have six days left and we have finished eighteen days. So we are like 70-75% finished. That’s pretty cool.


I guess you could say we’re going to take another two years or three years or something like that. And I promised you guys for dessert we will go to the great lamrim of Tsongkhapa and read his section on shamatha and vipassana—how to go into deep meditation on emptiness. Alright, in the Tibetan ,NYIN BCU DRUG PAR, on the 16th day, DANG POR RTZIS BZHAG GNANG BA—you are lucky that this custom has not spread to the west. This is called RTZIS BZHAG, which means like three months before the lamrim teachings the teacher will say, “everybody has to memorize the outline of the lamrim.” You can’t get into the room unless you memorize the outline of the lamrim. My teacher used to do it with the tantric vows and the bodhisattva vows. He would not let us in the room unless we could recite them (the vows in Tibetan). I still remember them, so I guess it was useful. It’s a custom to make the students memorize the outline and the teacher also has to memorize it. The teacher would close their eyes and they will sing it from memory and then the students, the whole audience, will sing it back. It’s a very nice custom. It’s a very beautiful custom.

So our lama on the 16th day, Pabongka Rinpoche, he did about the outline, PHYAG BZHES LTAR, he kept to the old system. He kept the old custom of starting his teaching the old way, which is the good way. Then he said, JI SKAD DU, KHAMS GSUM CHOS KYI RGYAL PO TZONG KHA PA CHEN PO’I ZHAL NAS, NGES ‘BYUNG DE YANG RNAM DAG SEMS BSKYED KYIS ,ZHES SOGS ‘DREN PAR 289B MDZAD NGES ‘BYUNG DE YANG RNAM DAG SEMS (not complete). And he quoted the Three Principal Paths actually by Je Tsongkapa, and he quoted a special section and it says, “Maybe you finally reached a point in your life where you are scared of life, or you are worried about life, or you are tired of life—you wish could be better.” And I think the virus is helping us all to get there. Maybe you have got to the first principal path now. Well, then you have to wrap it in bodhichitta. You have to wrap it in the wish that you could help other people reach their own freedom.


Why are we studying lamrim? It’s to help other people. When you help other people, you’re also helping yourself, so focus on other people during the time of the virus. Don’t worry about helping yourself, help other people and then you yourself will get helped by the way.

So he’s quoting … to start the class, to start the day, the lama, after they did RTZIS BZHAG they will quote a famous piece of scripture, which is going to apply to the teaching of the day. ZHES SOGS ‘DREN PAR 289B MDZAD NAS NGES ‘BYUNG GI STENG DU BYANG SEMS DGOS TSUL. He repeated to us how we had to take this first principal path: “I’m tired of all this trouble in life and you have to wrap it in bodhichitta.” Okay? BRTZAMS PA’I SNGON ‘GRO KUN SLONG ‘CHOS TSUL. And he encouraged us to KUN SLONG ‘CHOS to examine our heart, decide why we are here, why are we studying lamrim? It’s to help other people. When you help other people, you’re also helping yourself, so focus on other people during the time of the virus. Don’t worry about helping yourself, help other people and then you yourself will get helped by the way.

If you send the virus into the sun—if you do prayers for all living beings in the universe—you will cover the virus. Don’t worry. I have a picture here of a bunch of puppies in a group because I distinctly remember asking this question to my teacher. We were in the kitchen, the famous kitchen at this Mongolian temple, and I was studying Lam top tsul. In fact, it’s the first book I ever translated. It’s a version of Maitreya’s outline of the five—the three sets of five paths each—15 paths. And I asked my teacher, that the sign of reaching the first path is renunciation, being tired of this life, but when you get to the bodhisattva path—the five paths for a bodhisattva—Mahayana level, the first path is different. The first path is working to help all living beings. So I said, “That’s a little confusing to me.” In DCI terms a tragedy in your life will get you started. Then I said, “Rinpoche, why is that tragedy called “reaching bodhichitta” in the higher teachings—for the Mahayana track?” And he said, “think about it … it’s still the tragedy, it’s just a universal tragedy; it’s a tragedy involving every single being in this universe, that’s a big tragedy.” So I’d like to call it Rinpoche’s answer. or you could say a puppy in a group. I kind of like that idea. You’re not worried about one puppy, you’re worried about the whole basket of puppies—which is the universe.

SA BCAD SONG ZIN PA RNAMS JI LTAR SONG TSUL DANG. SA BCAD you know if you’ve been taking these classes. Our lama reviewed the outline to show us where we were, and we’re going to do that shortly. THAR PAR BGROD PA’I LAM GYI RANG BZHIN GTAN LA DBAB PA NAS BSKYAR BSHAD MDZAD. He went over the steps to the path to nirvana again—personal nirvana. He briefly went over them. Mainly the three trainings, and the wheel of life. Then the lama’s getting warmed up. The audience is getting warmed up. I think these lamas do these introductions because when you have a few thousand yak herders to get into a room, they’re probably always late. There’s no clocks in the whole country. So the lamas cover some other stuff for a while.


You can’t point to any other reason for our pain than thinking that things come from their own side.

RANG RE ‘KHOR BAR GANG GIS ‘KHOR NA LAS KYIS ‘KHOR LA. So what makes me keep doing the same thing over and over. Why do I keep going in these huge cycles in my life? I meet somebody, we have a relationship, it gets old, we break off, I’m sad for a while, and then I meet a new person. And then why do I go through these big cycles? ‘KHOR NA LAS LAS KYIS ‘KHOR. Karma’s forcing you in those huge circles. DE YANG NYON MONGS KYIS BSKYED. What triggers that karma is my negative emotions. NYON MONGS PA’I NANG NAS KYANG RTZA BA MA RIG PA. And what triggers all the negative emotions? I think the husband is coming from his own side [MA RIG PA], that’s what triggers it. BSKYED PA NYID. That’s it and nothing else. You can’t point to any other reason for our pain than thinking that things come from their own side [MA RIG PA].

If you want to tear out the root of the of the unhappiness you’re experiencing in this life, you must tear out the idea that things are coming from their side.

DE RTZAD NAS GCOD PA LA LHAG PA SHES RAB KYI BSLAB PA BSKYED DGOS. If you want to tear out the root of the of the unhappiness you’re experiencing in this life, you must tear out the idea that things are coming this way—that things are coming from their side. DE BSKYED PA LA TING NGE ‘DZIN DANG TSUL KHRIMS KYI BSLAB PA SNGON DU ‘GRO DGOS. If you really want to tear out this deep-seated belief that the world is coming this way [from their side], then you’re going to need two things. 1) You have to learn to meditate. You have to be meditating every day and to meditate you need what? For ten dollars. Huh? Say it again. 2) Morality. Both actually, yeah, but here’s where he ties … yeah, because he’s working backwards in a chain of causality, right? And now he has reached: if you want wisdom, you need meditation. If you want meditation, you need to treat other people nice. Otherwise, if you upset other people’s minds how are you ever going to sit down and have your mind be peaceful—that’s not karma.

TSUL KHRIMS KYI BSLAB PA SNGON DU ‘GRO DGOS PA’I PHYIR TSUL KHRIMS NI. Therefore, the foundation of everything is TSUL KHRIMS—treating other people well. YON TAN GYI GZHI MA. Sometimes the word GZHI, which means “foundation”, has a MA on it because the word MA in Tibetan, although it can mean negative, also means … mom. And sometimes they glue it onto the word for “foundation” to say like the mother / foundation or something like that. So some people translate this as “negative” and they’ll get in trouble. It’s not MA YIN, it’s GZHI MA, YIN. So, okay, YIN TSUL DANG. Alright, and then lastly, Pabongka Rinpoche closes this section masterfully with an unbelievable image. Okay, so I’m going to show you an image here of two guys getting to know each other. Somebody introduced somebody else to somebody at the office, and you know, the guy says “meet my friend so-and-so he has a business proposal for you.” And the other guy is like, “yeah tell me what it’s about.” There’s a song called Getting to Know You and it’s like, “I didn’t know you very well and then I tried to get to know you and now I got to know you and now I actually kind of like you. So it’s called Getting to Know You.


NYON MONGS PA’I GNYEN PO BSTEN SKABS. When you are trying to apply the antidote to your negative emotions. This BSTEN means “applying an antidote”. BSTEN. DANG PO NYON MONGS PA SKYER BCUG. He says … he’s very funny … Pabongka Rinpoche says, “I’ll teach you a trick, Okay?” I can see him leaning over, and don’t forget he’s talking to a couple of thousand people without a microphone for like eight hours. Like unbelievable. And I can just see him leaning over in sotto voice, “I’ll tell you a secret.” “What, what’s the secret?” He says, “I’ll teach you how to get rid of your bad mental habits.” “Okay, teach me.” He says, “Okay.” DANG PO NYON MONGS PA SKYER BCUG. Let’s say you have a problem with anger towards somebody, like someone has been upsetting you. Okay, so you’re not angry, you’re not throwing things all day. I had recently a couple call me and they said “we’re at the throwing stage”. “We’re starting to throw things at each other”. I said, “okay, we have to cover this “second husband” thing”.

DANG PO NYON MONGS PA SKYER BCUG. So when you’re sitting by yourself and you’re calm and you’re kind of mildly happy, if you’re at the throwing stage with your partner—tossing things at each other. They weren’t throwing things at each other, they were throwing garbage cans on the floor and stuff. So anyway, NYON MONGS PA SKYER BCUG, close your eyes and try to recreate the situation. So close your eyes and this person comes into your room and they start saying something which really, really hurts you—really hurts your heart. Try to recreate this situation while you’re calm and you’re sitting on the couch and close your eyes and imagine your husband comes in and starts accusing you of something or something like that. Just do that. SKYER BCUG means see if you can get to that emotion “artificially”. See if you can get yourself upset just thinking about your husband. That’s kind of a funny … it’s an amazing trick.

DE NAS NYON MONGS Then you’ll get upset, you’ll feel upset, then open your eyes real quick and try to catch how it feels to be upset. Okay? Like try to catch the feeling. NGOS ZIN. NGOS ZIN means learn to recognize how it feels to start to get upset by practicing getting upset, by thinking about the bad things your husband said to you in the past. It’s a very amazing method. We should have put it in the meditations Tim, maybe you guys can do it in the groups. Get used to identifying how it feels to start to get upset in your own heart by doing upset meditations. That’s so cool!


SKYER BCUG GNYEN PO BSTEN. And then practice applying the antidote. “Oh, oh he’s not coming from his side. He’s coming from me. When he says those things to me that’s coming from me. I have to remembered that, I have to remember.” YENGS NA’ANG NGOS ZIN PA’I GNAD YOD. Then he makes a funny … he says, he’s so funny … he says,”look it’s going to mess up your whole day”. YENGS NA’ANG means it’s going to mess up your whole day. NGOS ZIN PA’I GNAD. This is the marma, what do you it call it? Marma hata—the killing point—but there’s a GNAD. GNAD here means: yeah, it’s going to throw your whole day’s balance off, to do this meditation where you practice getting upset at your husband, but NGOS ZIN PA’I GNAD—the crucial point of this mini meditation is to learn to identify how it feels to be upset, so when you start to get upset you can stop yourself.

YOD TSUL SOGS GSUNGS. That’s how our teacher wrapped up the morning’s comments, and that’s how we’re wrapping up this episode. So thank you for coming to Lam Rim. Don’t forget to practice this upset meditation. If you’re lucky your husband will just come in the room and help you and you know, it actually works pretty well. By the way, we’re not trying to identify what it feels like to be upset, we all know that. Okay? We’re trying to learn to recognize what it feels like to start to get upset, because that’s where you can stop it. Once you’re upset, it’s almost impossible to stop. So, if we could learn to recognize the first few minutes of being upset then we could do something about it—we could apply wisdom. Okay. Alright, cool.

See you then in episode number nine.