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Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of Nalanda Monastery, and of the world-wide FPMT. During his visit to the area in May 2009, Rinpoche gave the following advice.

Studying Dharma to Benefit Others

Lama Zopa Rinpoche giving a talk at Nalanda Monastery 2011When you study Dharma here, study for sentient beings. This is the most important help for sentient beings, until they are liberated from contaminated karma and afflictions, they suffer constantly. They have been suffering since beginningless rebirths and until they are liberated from contaminated karma and afflictions, they will suffer continuously. Therefore, they need help, they need to be educated in Dharma, and therefore you need to learn Dharma. Therefore, this is the most important help. They need food and clothing, but that alone doesn't liberate them from contaminated karma and afflictions. Dharma is the real benefit that they need. Until they actualise Dharma, they have to suffer endlessly in the lower realms.

The purpose of ordaining is a very important service to sentient beings. You become an example; you are very brave, like an army in a war, to overcome your afflictions and the afflictions of other sentient beings. The war against your afflictions and the afflictions of other sentient beings. A very special benefit to sentient beings, the ordained, and studying the Dharma is the most important benefit for sentient beings.

With the attitude I explained before, cherishing sentient beings, the kindness of [sentient beings], then you live this life with a heart for others, you naturally live your life for others. Even going to bed, remembering how kind and precious sentient beings are, then it naturally benefits sentient beings, causes them happiness and leads them to enlightenment. You need to be healthy in order to practice Dharma, so as medicine, you sleep, for sentient beings. Whilst eating or washing, [it] becomes [a practice] for others if you remember this. No question then for Dharma study. You must remember the kindness of numberless sentient beings. I mentioned the most precious one sentient being, same with all sentient beings. When you study Dharma, it then becomes purely for others, for numberless sentient beings. Whatever you are learning, whether the Tibetan language or whatever, it becomes a service to numberless sentient beings.


The purpose of life, how to live your life, why we are studying the Dharma, for whom, the most important thing in your life, is your motivation, how you live your life. You are living a life of Dharma, the healthiest attitude, the purest mind, unstained by the self-cherishing thought. The cherishing of the ‘I' creates all the obstacles to enlightenment, obstacles to liberate sentient beings from samsara, obstacles to liberate yourself from samsara, obstacles to achieve the happiness for yourself in this and future lives.

In the Bodhisattvacharyavatara, the great bodhisattva Shantideva says, "If one doesn't exchange self for others, enlightenment cannot be achieved. Even whilst in samsara, happiness cannot be achieved." All the sufferings in the past, all the sufferings in this life and future lives, all come from cherishing the 'I'. This means that all the sufferings, problems, come from the ‘I'. All the happiness in the three times, both temporary and ultimate, comes from others, each and every sentient being, whether in the hell realms, animal realms, and so forth, all the happiness comes from others; from every single sentient being, including those who are angry towards you, those who don't like you, those that you call your enemies.

The big way to study Dharma is not because you want peace, liberation from samsara, or happiness in future lives, but rather to achieve enlightenment so that you can liberate numberless sentient beings from immense suffering. This should also be your motivation to live in your ordination or lay vows.

Studying Dharma is practicing for sentient beings; it is the best offering that pleases numberless buddhas, bodhisattvas and gurus.


Studying

The heart is studying the Dharma, studying philosophy, with intention, not like university, which is intellectual study so that you can find a job and money; that's nothing to do with transforming your mind, just intellectual understanding, not to benefit others. When studying Dharma with the intention to have realisations of the path to enlightenment in this life, in this mind, of guru devotion, definite emergence, bodhicitta and emptiness; requests to the guru, accumulation, and purification help one to have realisations; all of this together. Not studying at university so that you can get a job later, this is a very mundane motivation. Even if the subject is Dharma, if that is your motivation, it isn't Dharma, but eight worldly concerns. What you are doing is the most important thing in life, especially the sangha, living in the vows. It makes life unbelievably precious, so precious, and with that studying Dharma. It is as if your life has become gold from kaka. You are doing the most important thing in the world, the most important thing in your life, and the most beneficial thing for sentient beings and for yourself.

Final Advice for Monks and Lay Residents

I want to say again how it is so important this monastery here, because in our organisation there is one other small monastery in Australia, built by Dr. Adrian. Nalanda Monastery has existed for a long time and I think it is the only Tibetan monastery in the West. There are many retreat places but I haven't heard of any other monasteries, and the reason is that it is so difficult. Therefore, you should feel that you are unbelievably fortunate to be a monk at Nalanda Monastery. Even in Switzerland, Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, who was my teacher in Buxa where we had very few texts, but I received teachings from him. They had very good conditions and under the guidance of a great scholar, many spoke Tibetan, debated, but none of them lasted as monks, and this included Alan Wallace who left to meditate on shiné but didn't complete. There may be one Australian monk left. Also, Antonio Satta was there for some time before he ordained. Here the conditions are not as comfortable as there, and it was cheaper there, but this monastery has lasted much longer. Even though some of the old monks, such as Thubten Pende disrobed.

It is a question of merit. If you don't have much merit, you won't last long. Even in great comfort and with a great master you won't last without merit. You need to make a lot of prayers and accumulate merit in order to complete your life in vows, this richest life, ‘the' life that accomplishes everything. It's very easy to accomplish liberation and enlightenment, and being ordained is the best basis for practicing tantra. So much merit and good karma is needed to live as monk. If you don't have merit, you won't last. Anyway, living this life as a monk, living in ordination, every second is more precious than a sky filled with wish granting jewels. So easy to achieve attainments.

Those who are living a lay life, with family, your partner is who you are going to practice Dharma with, patience, good heart, loving-kindness, and compassion with. Develop your mind with that person. Use that person by generating these qualities, use this person to achieve enlightenment in order to liberate numberless sentient beings and lead them to enlightenment, including this person. Especially always practice patience and the other perfections in order to achieve enlightenment. If someone is angry with you, you don't need to look outside, you have that most precious sentient being in your home that gets angry with you, scolds you, you can practice bodhicitta and let go of the self-cherishing and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible. In this way, you can become a smart person and use this person in order to achieve enlightenment for all sentient beings. If a person wants to go away after some time, if your motivation is to practice Dharma, it shouldn't be a problem. Therefore, if you live a lay life, this is how you can practice Dharma. Your goal should be to benefit sentient beings.

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