E-letter No. 3: April 2003

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Sydney, Australia 1975
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Welcome to our third e-letter, and thank you for being on our list. Please find below another short, previously unpublished teaching by Lama Yeshe, as we promised.

The big news for us is that we have totally revamped our Web site, with the kind and expert help of the indefatigable Tony Simmons, proprietor of Darshanweb and the hard, dedicated work of our own Jennifer Barlow. Thank you both. Please, everybody, check it out: www.LamaYeshe.com.

We have added several new teachings during the past couple of months, with more to come. Read, for example, two teachings by the great bodhisattva Tenzin Gyaltsen, Khunu Lama Rinpoche, and Gomchen Khampala’s "Advice on Guru Practice." We have also expanded our archive of photos of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and this will continue to grow rapidly. If you have photos of the Lamas that we could add to our gallery, please let us know.

Completely new features are "Ask the Lamas" and "Reminiscences of Lama Yeshe." With the former, please send us your Dharma question and we will search our Archive of tens of thousands of unedited teachings to see if we can find what Lama Yeshe or Lama Zopa Rinpoche have said on that point. We will then post your question and the Lamas’ answer; no guarantees how long it will take us, but we’ll try to do it soon.

For "Reminiscences of Lama Yeshe," we would love those of you who knew Lama to share your memories with others. Write as much as you like. We will probably copy-edit your reflections but will show you what we have done before posting them on the site.

We would also like to draw your kind attention to the fact that a couple of our popular titles are out of print and another couple are running very low. We would like to reprint Lama Yeshe’s "The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism," "Becoming Your Own Therapist" and "Make Your Mind an Ocean," and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s "Virtue and Reality," but need $5,000 per title in order to print 10,000 of each. If you can help find us these funds, many people will be extremely grateful.

Thank you so much for your kind interest and for your support for the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

Much love,

Nick Ribush
Director

WHY WE NEED MEDITATION

From the beginning of human evolution on this planet, people have tried their best to be happy and to enjoy their lives. And, over this time, they have developed an incredible number of different methods in pursuit of these goals. Among these methods we find different interests, different jobs, different technologies and different religions. From the manufacture of the tiniest piece of candy to the most sophisticated spaceship, the underlying motivation is to find happiness. People haven’t made these things for nothing, have they? So, we’re all familiar with the course of human history; beneath it all is the constant pursuit of happiness.

However--and Buddhist philosophy is extremely clear on this--no matter how much progress you make in material development, you’ll never find lasting happiness and satisfaction; it’s impossible. Lord Buddha stated this quite categorically. It’s impossible to find happiness and satisfaction through material means alone.

When Lord Buddha stated this, he wasn’t just putting it out as an intellectual skeptic, as some kind of theory. He learned this through his own experience. He tried it all: "Maybe this will make me happy; maybe this will make me happy; maybe this will make me happy." He thoroughly checked out every trip, came to a conclusion and then outlined his philosophy. None of his teachings are dry, intellectual statements.

Of course, we know that modern technological advances can solve physical problems, like broken bones and bodily pain. Lord Buddha would never say these methods are ridiculous, that we don’t need doctors or medicine. He was never extreme in that way. But whatever pain or pleasure we experience, any sensation, is extremely transitory. We know this ourselves; it’s not just theory. We’ve experienced the ups and downs of physical existence ever since we were born. Sometimes we’re weak; sometimes we’re strong. It’s always changing. But while modern medicine can definitely help alleviate physical ailments, you’ll never ever find anything you can take to cure the dissatisfied, undisciplined mind. There’s no medicine known that can bring satisfaction.

Physical matter is impermanent in nature; it’s transitory, it never lasts. Therefore, trying to feed desire, to satisfy the dissatisfied mind, with something that’s constantly changing is hopeless, impossible. There’s no way to satisfy the uncontrolled, undisciplined mind through material means.

In order to do this, we need meditation; meditation is the right medicine for treating the uncontrolled, undisciplined mind. Meditation is the way to perfect satisfaction. The nature of the uncontrolled mind is sick; dissatisfaction is mental illness. What is the right antidote to that illness? It’s knowledge wisdom; understanding the nature of psychological phenomena; knowing how the internal world functions. Many people understand how machinery operates but they have no idea about the mind; very few understand how their psychological world works. Knowledge-wisdom is the medicine that brings that understanding.

Lama Yeshe gave this teaching at Anzac House, Sydney, Australia, in April 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush. Read the rest of this teaching in Chapter Five of The Peaceful Stillness of the Silent Mind.