The Three Stages of the Path
Teachings by Lama Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
September 1998, Vancouver, BC, Canada

It says Milarepa's previous life was great Kadampa geshe, Kadampa lama, and that's why he achieved enlightenment in his lifetime. Sometimes we think, "Well, Milarepa, when he was young, he was bad, he was very bad because he did black magics. He killed people! And murdered, he was a murderer! How can this kind of person become enlightened in one lifetime? I don't understand. Like, for me, I haven't killed anyone! I haven't really done really bad things. Of course we lie, and sometimes intentionally, unintentionally we maybe try to cheat, or try to rip off somebody. Or maybe killing insects and bugs. And due to intention, or sometimes when you're a child you kill some birds, and go into the bush and hunt and shoot. But you feel that you haven't really done really bad things, like murdering human beings and doing black magics. But I done so much study and meditate for ten, fifteen years, still no realization. But Milarepa become enlightened, even though he was a murderer. So I don't understand what's going on here." So sometimes we have lots of confusions, lots of questions.

See Milarepa, as I said, was great practitioner and yogi and geshe in his former lifetime. So if you have connection with the Dharma in the past, and I do feel strongly that you have a connection. I mean, I'm not a clairvoyant, I can't say. But because logically, why are you here? If you think logically, why are you here? I mean, how many people live in Vancouver? How many people live in Canada? How many people are really studying Dharma? How many people really study Dharma, and put a lot of time and energy? And you people do spend a lot of time in Dharma -- reading, studying, going to this retreat, that retreat, and this workshop, this initiation, that initiation, running around doing spiritual shopping, browsing, and try to find some time off. Working so hard, and trying to make living. You know most people go away for skiing or snorkeling, or maybe kayaking, and so on and so forth. Go down to Mexico, whenever they have some money and time. But most of you spend your time and vacations doing Dharma, studying, meditating and retreats. You spend a lot of money too. Average Dharma student probably spend $2000-$3000 a year for Dharma things -- like books, and this and that, statues, all kinds of things. So why does this happen to you? What happened to you?

So even though you still feel, "I am not a good practitioner, I'm a lousy practitioner. I'm lazy. I broke all those vows and commitments." You still go on, and don't give up Dharma practice. So you should think, "Why? I wonder why?" I wonder why. We all wonder why. Because I believe because you have a Dharma seed. You have a connection with the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in a past life. That's why naturally it's deep inside your mind, your spirit, that says, "Study, study, meditate. Keep trying. Keep trying. Keep trying." Life after life. Doesn't matter. Because Dharma is always beneficial.

Let's say you sit and meditate, fall asleep. And meditate, fall asleep. Meditate, fall asleep. Sometimes you don't get good sleep. And meditation is not so good either. But I think it's still beneficial. Maybe, I think it does something good. See the idea is good, and motivation is good. The intention is good. So when you have a good intention, good idea, it will bless you. It will bless you.

Anyway, so I shouldn't talk too much about this. So I believe that you have a very strong connection with the Dharma in the past, in past lives. Therefore, I'd like to encourage. I'd like to say that if you keep practicing Dharma, the realization will come. And many of you have realizations. Some of you don't think you have realizations. And you think, "Oh, I don't think I have realizations. It's my delusion, and projection. I think it is ego. I don't want to think this way -- I have some realizations." But I think you do have realizations.

Sometimes our own mind, we are very pessimistic. People are very pessimistic. And we underestimate our own strength of our mind. And we think, "Oh I don't have realizations." It's kind of like tradition, sometimes, like in the Tibetan tradition too. Even the high lamas say, "Oh I'm not good. I just end up on the throne, and people call me high lama. But I'm not really high lama. I'm not really highly realized." And one of my teachers used to say, sometimes he say like that. He says, "I'm sitting here on the throne, it's not because I have great realization." He says, "It's my karma." It's your karma that somehow we end up like this.

And then he tells stories, funny stories. He says one beggar who end up on the throne of high lama. He tells the story. This beggar was going around in the monastery begging, and he thought the monks are very kind, they will give him food. So he went to the monastery, and then he run into some very vicious dogs. So these dogs are clear, they know beggars, who's beggar, who's who. And they don't like beggars, some dogs I mean, in Tibet. The dogs in Tibet are very vicious because they live in the mountains and isolated places. So this group of dogs came and they chased the beggar. And the beggar run and run, and don't know where to run. He run inside the temple, and the dogs came after him in the temple. So he thought, "Well, I think the safest place is to go up and climb up on the throne of the lama." So he run up and sat on the throne. And then the dogs sat on the floor, and barking. It was funny. And then when the lama came, he thought, "Oh that's interesting." This lama came, and he thought this beggar was giving discourse to the dogs.

So it's a Tibetan custom, it's tradition, sort of being modest, humbleness, always says, "I'm not very good, I'm not good meditator." And so on. So when the lamas keep doing this, then the students also, of course they will do the same thing, right? You have to follow the footsteps of guru. So people sometimes they maybe think like that, because they keep saying like that, you see. They think they don't have realizations because of that. But I do think, I do feel, and I do know many students have great realization. Because I look at the way they do things, how they live in their lives, how much compassion they have, and love and tolerance. And they do lots of wonderful work for humanity and society, and for the environment. So these are realizations. So therefore what I would like to say that realizations are not very far, far from us.


OnwardOnward to Three Stages, p.5 

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