TEACHINGS AND ADVICE: Advice from A Virtuous Friend
By Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Because I had a stroke, I started to see a physiotherapist in Nepal. One day my physiotherapist asked some questions while doing physiotherapy, then at the very end he concluded, “Not so many people in the world have a good heart.”
Here is my way of thinking regarding that. Usually, it is regarded as less important in the world to have a good heart than to be very tough, uncaring and cheat others, hurt others, tell lies and cause loss to others in order to get your happiness, your profits and so forth.
Even if the other person doesn’t practice the good heart, you should still practice the good heart because you want happiness and you don’t want suffering. Even if the other sentient being doesn’t practice the good heart – or even tries to harm you, causes you loss, kills you and so forth – but from your own side, if you practice only the good heart with your body speech and mind only to benefit others (or at the very least, not cause harm to sentient beings) then you will experience happiness.
The result of one act of kindness benefiting others with your body, speech and mind is experiencing the resulting happiness for thousands of lifetimes. From that one kindness – benefiting someone with your body, speech and mind, or at the least, not harming them – the result is happiness. This is the result, even if you are looking only for your own happiness.
By generating the good heart and at least not harming sentient beings purifies instantly your negative karmas and defilements created from beginningless rebirths and you collect unbelievable merit.
It is mentioned in the Bodhicharyavatara by the great holy being Bodhisattva Shantideva: “Even thinking to heal the headaches of sentient beings has benefit.” There’s no question if one is actually working for the happiness of all sentient beings. There’s no need to mention the benefit from that – the most unbelievable, unbelievable great benefit that has.
By having a good heart (and at the very least, not to harm others), it causes you happiness and, by the way, causes happiness to all sentient beings. If you harm someone, whether an animal or human being, then you receive harm from others for many hundreds and thousands of lifetimes, and you can’t benefit others for that length of time. When you can’t benefit others, then the purpose of your life becomes meaningless; the purpose of your life is lost and you are totally lost, like being stuck in a quagmire of mud or in the ocean.
By generating compassion, the good heart and loving kindness for someone – even one sentient being – it brings you to full enlightenment. Not only does one achieve liberation from samsara, but full enlightenment – buddhahood, the complete cessation of all the defilements and sufferings, and all realizations, including omniscience.
The purpose of generating the good heart is incredible: what you can gain is all the realizations and whatever you want to achieve. You will have no obstacles, no blockages to benefiting ALL SENTIENT BEINGS, to freeing them from all the sufferings and the causes of suffering, to being able to give them all the causes of temporal happiness and ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara and full enlightenment.
It is common knowledge that someone who has a good heart not only makes himself happy, but also his family and parents happy – even someone who doesn’t know this person can be made happy. Definitely that person can bring peace in this world. Living life with a good heart is the most important thing, even animals become happy with you – the birds and the dogs – everybody.
[It is the same for] caring for this tiny sentient being, this ant, that has been my brother and sister in the past. All these ants have been human beings before, like us. Due to ignorance and not knowing the “I” [correctly], and not knowing Dharma, they were born in the lower realms, such as ants, because of anger and attachment. They were born due to delusion and karma as an ant and so forth. You can’t imagine what it’s like when one falls in the lower realms. To be born an ant after we die, it’s hard to imagine. By not understanding Dharma and not practicing Dharma, being born as ant due to delusion and karma – can you imagine?
We have been born like that numberless times: from being a human to being reborn in the lower realms, as an ant. This ant we see, we have been exactly the same. Or as an insect so tiny that you can only see through a microscope, we have been exactly the same as that tiny sentient being, or as a being with a body huge like mountains.
We can’t imagine being born like this, as an ant and so forth, we can’t imagine the suffering. We can’t even stand human problems and suffering, so no way can we stand the suffering of the animals, the suffering of hell beings, the suffering of pretas and so forth. This is why must understand Dharma and practice the good heart now, it is very important.
Buddha has taught 100 volumes – called the Kangyur. Then the great scholars and Indian pandits, the six ornaments, and the two sublime disciples, Sharipu and Maglipu, and so forth, gave commentaries on these and that is the called the Tengyur. There are more than 200 volumes in it. Then there are the great scholars and holy beings in Tibet and all their teachings.
Buddhism came from India, from Buddha, and then went to Tibet and Nepal. Buddhism was well established in Tibet, so many people practiced and served. So many became bodhisattvas and buddhas in Tibet. Tibet is unbelievable; there are so many holy places, also in Nepal. When Buddhism in India degenerated, then in Tibet it became like sunshine.
Buddhism is not made up by Tibetan lamas or created without a lineage from ancient times. In the early days Tibetan Buddhism was referred to as Lamaism but that is totally wrong to call it that.
With Buddhism the more you learn, the deeper your knowledge; Buddhism goes deeper and deeper. With other religions, with just a little learning then you touch the bottom. Buddhism is like the ocean, and the real understanding is when you achieve omniscient mind when you become a buddha.
Therefore, generating the good heart towards anybody – towards insects, towards hungry ghosts, hell beings, human beings, suras and asuras – is the very essence of life. The good heart is the real meaning of life and the most important lesson; it is the root of your happiness and happiness of all sentient beings.
Scribed by Ven. Holly Ansett, Kopan Monastery, June 2011. Edited for inclusion in Mandala, October 2011.Tags: compassion, lama zopa rinpoche