E-letter No. 4: May 2003

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal 1974 (Archive #028)

Dear Friend,

Hot on the heels of the somewhat delayed April LYWA e-letter comes the less-delayed May one.

I'd like to remind you about our new, highly improved Web site, to which we've been adding wonderful teachings and new features: "Ask the Lamas," "Remembering Lama Yeshe" and more photographs of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Check it out. We also welcome your feedback. Also, if something doesn't seem to be working properly, please let us know.

Some of our popular books are running low; others are completely out of stock. We'd like to reprint Lama Yeshe's "Becoming Your Own Therapist" and "Make Your Mind an Ocean" and Lama Zopa Rinpoche's "Virtue and Reality" and need sponsors for these titles. In general, it costs us about $4,000 to print 10,000 copies of one of these books. If you would like to help, please let us know.

In the meantime, here's another great teaching from the Archive, this one from Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Thank you so much for your interest.

Much love,

Nick Ribush
Director

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LAM-RIM OUTLINE

When giving lam-rim courses, at the beginning of each day's teaching, I often run through the main points of the lam-rim outline. There are several reasons for doing this.

One is that it gives you a wonderful overview of the Buddha's teaching. From it you can see the full array of subjects dealt with by Buddhism and understand the path that all buddhas followed on their way to enlightenment. Also, as you look at the various divisions of the teaching as shown in the lam-rim outline, you can see that everything the buddha taught is in there; everything you need to receive enlightenment yourself. Thus, great faith in the teaching arises within you. When you have faith in the teaching of the Buddha, listening to it is much more beneficial.

Therefore, it's not unreasonable for the teacher to repeat the outline over and over or useless for the student to hear it again and again. The outline itself is very effective for your mind. You get an excellent overview of the teaching and see just how important it is.

Another question that sometimes arises is, why do the analytical meditations we do have outlines? If a teacher just talks on and on without any structural organization to what he or she is saying, everything gets mixed up. Then, no matter how much you meditate on what you've heard, there's no way to get quick realizations. If you listen to teachings where many topics are all jumbled up together, it takes a long time to receive experience of the meaning.

It's like, you go into a kitchen where there are many different kinds of food--sugar, salt, rice, flour, pepper and so forth--all mixed up together, there's no way to make delicious food; whatever you make will taste very strange.

The great meditators, the highly realized yogis, all followed outlines in their practice. This was their skill; this was how they attained enlightenment quickly. And this is the great treasure that they passed on to their disciples, to people like us. Thus, they have made it easier for us gain realizations quickly, with less hindrance.

For example, when you study the teachings on the perfect human rebirth--how valuable it is, its great usefulness, how difficult it is to receive--everything is connected; one topic leads to another. Therefore, when you practice the different meditations within this topic, you have to do them in the right order. First, you have to meditate on the preciousness of the perfect human rebirth; having done that, when you meditate on its great usefulness, you will more easily be able to see how useful it really is. Then, when you have understood the great usefulness of the perfect human rebirth, you will more easily be able to understand how difficult it is to receive. In other words, realization of the preceding meditation makes it easier to realize the one that follows.

When you first encounter the lam-rim teachings, neither the teachings themselves not the outline make much sense to you. But as you continue to practice analytical meditation on the various topics and gain experience of them, even just remembering the outlines will give you a fantastic feeling. The entire path, everything the Buddha taught, will come home to you without your having to go through all the countless words. Just bringing the outline to mind will be such a strong, powerful experience. At the moment, even when you do read the many detailed words, it takes a long time and you don't feel much, but you have to be patient. Through perseverance, all will come in time.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this teaching at the Sixth Kopan Meditation Course, April 1974. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.