Wednesday, March 25, 2015

EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK "THE LAWUDO LAMA": Stories of Reincarnation from the Mount Everest Region


Thubten Zopa Rinpoche  is a Nepalese lama from the Solu Khumbu valley, the entryway to Mount Everest. Early in life, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Lawudo Lama Kunzang Yeshe, from the same region (hence the title "Rinpoche"). He took his monastic vows at Dungkar Monastery in Tibet where he travelled in 1957, but he had to flee due to severe treatment on monks inflicted by the Chinese army after the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Instead of continuing in Tibet, his spiritual teacher, Geshe Rabten, entrusted him to the care of Lama Thubten Yeshe. Thubten Zopa learned English at the Young Lamas Home School. Lama Zopa has received teachings from many high lamas.[2] Lama Zopa met the previous Panchen Lama in Nepal in 1986 and in Tibet. Lama Zopa is most noteworthy as the co-founder, with Lama Yeshe, of Kopan Monastery and the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). In 1972 he along with Lama Yeshe founded Tushita Meditation Centre near McLeod Ganj at village Dharamkot in Himachal Pradesh. [3] Since the 1984 death of Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa has served as the FPMT's spiritual director.

Zopa's books are published by Wisdom Publications. Free transcripts of some of his teachings are available from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.[4] There is an extensive biography of him in the book The Lawudo Lama by Jamyang Wangmo.

Lama Zopa supports — apparently in accordance with the dying wish of Lama Yeshe — the Maitreya Project, a planned 152 m (500 ft) high Maitreya statue in Kushinagar, northern India. If built, it will be one of the largest Buddha statues in the world, only one meter shorter than the Spring Temple Buddha in China's Henan province. - from Wikipedia

THE LAWUDO LAMA: Stories of Reincarnation from the Mount Everest region

Introduction: According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the main purpose of writing the biography of holy beings is to inspire others to follow their example. When our mind is weak and invaded by desire for worldly life, reading how great beings past and present have practiced Dharma helps to revive our courage, inspiration, and devotion. By developing faith and admiration toward them, we will be inspired to practice Dharma as they have done. Just by hearing about the wondrous deeds of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, we purify negative imprints in in our mind and develop a strong wish to devote our life to following their example to the best of our ability. Therefore, it is extremely important to hear, read and reflect upon the lives of highly realized beings.

Buddhist texts explain that at the time of death, beings are tortured by their own past actions and experience all kinds of terrifying visions. For instance, those who have killed many humans or animals have the experience of being attacked by the beings they have killed and they die with great fear. In Dharamsala, a Tibetan man who had been a butcher could see sheep and goats attacking him, but those around him could do nothing to help. Actually, no external beings are attacking the dying person, but their own negative karma creates all those terrifying mental projections. And these are just the visions before death; the actual experience of being reborn in the lower realms is far more frightening.

Even though intellectually you do not believe in future lives, at the time of death you have the intuitive feeling that you may have wasted your life and that some very heavy things are going to happen. So, if you sincerely check your heart, the answer about reincarnation is: not sure.

These questions are very important. You may not accept reincarnation because it is not your experience to remember past lives, but that is just fooling yourself. If that were the case, what about the things you did in this life that you don't remember? Would you say that you did not do those things? As a child you did many things that you do not remember now. You do not remember coming out of your mother's womb, but you have been told that you were born from her and you believe it. Using the same logic, you should not believe that either.

Some people argue that since the body disappears after death, reincarnation is not possible. This is a misunderstanding based on the lack of differentiation between body and mind. The body has form - color and shape - where as the mind is a formless phenomenon that has the ability to know objects and whose nature is clarity. What goes on to the next life is the mind, not the body; the body does not reincarnate.

In short, not a single person has realized that there is no such thing as reincarnation. Some people have such an assumption, but they have no direct realization. On the other hand, there are numberless persons, even just ordinary human beings, who have definitely realized the certainty of reincarnation.


The recognition of tulkus (literally, "emanation bodies") seems to be a special feature of Tibetan Buddhism. The first official recognition of a tulku took place in Tibet in 1288, when the Third Karmapa Ranjung Dorje (1284-1339) was recognized and enthroned as the reincarnation of Karma Pakshi (1204-83), who in turn was the tulku of Dusum Khyenpa (1110-93).

A tulku can be defined as a being who has achieved a certain level of spiritual development and power and has consciously chosen to take rebirth in order to benefit beings.

Despite their presumed spiritual achievements, tulkus have to undergo their education all over again. Most of them are able to learn much faster than ordinary children, and they usually show a maturity of character and kindness and concern for others that are absent in most children

According to Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, highly realized beings are endowed with power, wisdom, and compassion, and are able to transmit their wisdom to others. According to the Buddhist scriptures, bodhisattvas on the first level have the ability to manifest hundreds of versions of their own bodies. It can happen that a bodhisattva emanates another being to continue his or her work even before passing away.

In such circumstances, according to Denma Locho Rinpoche, it is very important that others be informed about the appointed successor. This is a difficult topic that even learned Tibetan Lamas find hard to understand. They all agree however, that highly realized bodhisattvas have the power to do almost anything they wish, and that their actions can be beyond the comprehension of ordinary beings.

There are many examples of holy beings manifesting more than one emanation simultaneously. For instance, shortly before his death, the great yogi Milarepa (1040 -1123) manifested various bodies in different places. Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820 - 92) manifested five different tulkus, Dudjom Rinpoche (1904 - 87) was born before the death of his predecessor (Dudjom Lingpa, 1835 - 1904), and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche was born 21/2 years before the Lawudo Lama Kunzang Yeshe passed away.


According to the teachings of the Buddha, the extremely subtle mind is located in the heart. Because of this, the negative emotions such as anger, desire, jealousy, pride and so forth arise from the heart and not from the brain. So we can see that our ordinary daily experience is in harmony with what the Buddha taught.

The yogis who practice the meditations of the completion stage of tantra undergo experiences similar to those that take place during the death process. Using the methods of the highest tantras, they are able to achieve the unification of the clear light and illusory body and use this realization as a weapon to purify ordinary death, intermediate state (bardo), and rebirth and actualize the resultant dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya. These meditators are able to use the subtle body to visit pure lands, make offerings to the buddhas, and receive teachings; they can then reenter their old body and perform ordinary activities just as before.

 - from the book "The Lawudo Lama"

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