RINPOCHE'S CURRENT ACTIVITIES AND SCHEDULE
(For the confirmed schedule and details of how to book for these events, please contact the center directly or go to http://www.fpmt.org/teachers/zopa/schedule.php)
Rinpoche will give the Great Medicine Buddha initiation at Maitreya Instituut, Amsterdam, then move to Maitreya Instituut, Emst for CPMT 2004, August 24 - 29th, and will give 21 Tara initiation during CPMT. The official long life puja on behalf of FPMT will be offered to Rinpoche on August 30th.
Rinpoche will lead another long retreat on Ganden Lha Gyema at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa in Italy between Sept 3 - 30th. This will begin with Rinpoche giving Yamantaka initiation between September 4 - 6th.
Rinpoche will teach at the Kopan November course.
We hope to have more information about Rinpoche's schedule in 2005 soon.
'So as to give Anet (Ven Anet Engel) a break from cooking all the time for the house, I suggested that we go to town for dinner. Roger wanted to eat at the house, as she makes very nice food. So Roger asked Anet if she minded cooking. Of course if you ask, then the person will say that they are happy to cook. Of course it is possible to say no, but that would be quite rude. So Anet replied to Roger 'that it mainly depends on you'. So from this you can tell that she wants to go out to eat. So we went out. But Roger didn’t realize that we were going to eat out, as I asked him 'do you want to go shopping?' And he replied 'yes'. The reason to go shopping was to buy a vase and wealth for the seat of the Medicine Buddha statue at the house, and along with that to have dinner.
The Breadline Cafe was where I met with the group of students during the last visit. But as it was almost closing time, maybe the waiters would be upset at having to delay going home, so we went to another restaurant called 'Dairy Queen'.
First of all I had an ice cream that was okay for diabetics, and then I was served a veggie burger and french fries. Then it came into the mind to eat the french fries whilst thinking Guru Deity. There were quite a lot of french fries, so with each one, can collect more merit than making offering to all the Buddhas, Dharma, Sangha, statues, stupas, scriptures, and all the holy objects.
I can’t say every one, but most of the french fries were done like that. And not all of the veggie burger, but some. I haven’t had ice cream for a long time so can’t say, maybe hardly done. In fact I can’t remember.'
RINPOCHE'S ADVICE FOR DAILY PRACTICE FOR FPMT COMMUNITIES
Rinpoche sent Kachoe Zung Jug Ling Abbey (in Canada) advice about how the community should practice together each day, and what sort of retreats and so on to add - this advice is of course also very helpful for any FPMT community! To download it, just go to the Members' Area, or email email@example.com
BENEFITS OF RECITING THE SANGHATA SUTRA
Some inspired comments from a few centers who recently recited the Sanghata Sutra many times. Rinpoche has said about the benefits of reciting this sutra - 'this sutra is a very important sutra and can be recited in many different situations, for example when the center has problems or obstacles, as well as for individuals.'
'THANK YOU, Rinpoche, for creating the opportunity for so many people to meet the Sanghata Sutra and thus receive the benefit.'
'Thank you for giving me this very auspicious opportunity to enhance my practice.'
'I strongly recommend you to recite the Sanghata Sutra. It's great, really great.'
'I am truly enjoying the recitations. The first one was my first exposure to this Sutra, and was extremely powerful for me. I cried a lot, but realized at some point during the recitation, that due to this Sanghata Sutra everything is going to be all right.'
'The most powerful thing for me was to be made aware that it is merit that lives on. How wonderful that there are means to create a mass of merit. This Sutra is and is going to remain a part of my practice. I am also memorizing stanzas that have particular meaning to me. Actually the whole Sutra does, but my memorization capabilities are limited!'
'It was very beneficial and I send thanks to Lama Zopa for the inspiration of reciting this or I never would have found or read this myself,
nor would my dog, cat, son and numberless beings in and around my home and fishes in the lake, the geese and ducks, turtles and other beings without number who also heard this recited by my home.'
'My wife and I travelled as usual yesterday. During our trek we usually discuss, read out loud, recite mantra, or otherwise focus on the Dharma as we head down for teachings. This time we read the Sanghata Sutra during our trip. While reading the sutra a butterfly did smash into the windshield and that made us sad. There are places in the Sanghata Sutra that were so vivid that we both felt we were in front of the Blessed One. On arrival we stopped for a meal. We were discussing the Sanghata Sutra. We were talking about the examples in the Sutra and how we should apply this teaching. In the course of the discussion we ordered the steak salad for our meal. The meal arrived and we each took a helping. I cut and ate a piece of the meat. When the meat had touched my tongue I shuddered and stared. Cindy reached over to me because she could see I was visibly shaken and overwhelmed. This most sudden and abrupt change in me caused her to fear that I was having a heart attack. In that moment, without other thought, I was this very cow, white faced, horn on the right turned, surrounded by other cattle, jammed together, standing in a shadowed area of a pen. Multiple pens extending to my left, into a bright sun. Harsh bellows, the clop of hoofs up ramps. Wild eyed, this poor beast that I now had become, prodded into a place where my forehead was slammed with a force that released such pain, collapsed upon the floor, hoofs gathered by heavy chains the suffering so deep I was and still, even in this simple recollection that cannot capture the depth or profound nature of the experience, deeply moved to tears. In that instant, I vowed to eat no being ever again. Choices for all nourishment are now very closely guarded. The torment and suffering recollected in that moment continues to bury more deeply into me. The sufferings truly are all too unimaginable and extremely unbearable. This is a most powerful Sutra, please thank Lama Zopa Rinpoche for his kindness in having us recite this most profound teaching.'
Rinpoche responded to this account as follows:
'Thank you very much your great news of your discovery of life, for yourself and others. Certainly it is a blessing of the Arya Sanghata Sutra, which means it is a blessing of Buddha himself, a direct blessing from Buddha to you.
I highly praise your continual perseverance to practice Dharma, using your long hours driving to practice Dharma and to not waste your life, to chant mantras and discuss Dharma. This is very inspiring example as a way to practice Dharma, to practice Dharma not only at your house, on the meditation cushion, but at other times, in the break time, even during your job, or activities such as driving. This helps so much to others, to not waste your life, your most precious human life, which is so precious because suddenly you have the opportunity to stop your suffering and to have many pleasures, comfort. Also this human body enables you to achieve happiness of all the coming future lives, not only that, but liberation from samsara, total cessation from this continual cycle of reincarnation and the experience of oceans of sufferings of the 6 realms and achieve great liberation, peerless happiness and full enlightenment for the benefit of numberless sentient beings.'
ADVICE ABOUT TEXTS FOR NEW GROUPS
Rinpoche offered this advice concerning which texts to study together with new Dharma groups. Rinpoche was asked to advise which was more beneficial to study with this particular group: a Lam Rim text, a Lojong text, or Shantideva’s Guide to a Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.
Rinpoche replied that it would be more beneficial in this case to study a Lojong text. The Lojong and Lam Rim texts were more beneficial for newer groups to study, as they gave the outline of the whole path to enlightenment. Shantideva gives more detail of this outline.
So it is like with the news on the television, the main points are presented and then you can decide whether to stay for the detailed report that follows. So too with the Lam Rim and Lojong texts you receive an outline, and then you can choose to study Shantideva for more details of this outline.
Rinpoche said that although we have different definitions for love and compassion, and during tong-len practice love and compassion are practiced at different times, actually, in practice they are not separate.
Just as smoke is a sign of fire, and with a fire there is smoke, so too where love is present so too there is compassion. That in practice they are coming together.
When you are wishing to take on the suffering of others sincerely, then you are also wishing for their happiness. And when you are wishing sincerely for others’ happiness, then you are also wishing to remove their suffering.
Although the thought of love and compassion are not arising simultaneously, in practice they are appearing together.
FPMT International Office