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

Then the Third Scope is focused on meditation on altruistic mind, meditation on bodhicitta. And let's say you have accomplished the realization of the First Scope and Second Scope, become a good meditator, achieve good realizations. Now you have the ability and the realization to free oneself from cyclic existence, from samsara, from this rebirth. No more rebirth, no more coming back to the world by the force of karma. You are beyond karma. You could come back to the world, or you could be in a nirvana, state of nirvana, in the state of peace, as long as you wish, or forever and ever. Now is that good? Is that wonderful? Is that great? Of course it is great. It is wonderful.

But is that the best path? Is that best realization, or highest realization, highest achievement? No, I don't think so. The Buddhas always taught that the most important, the most beneficial for all sentient beings, for the benefit of all sentient beings, is to cultivate bodhicitta and Six Perfections, and compassion. And to actually become the Awakened One, fully Awakened One, and fully Enlightened One, the Buddha. Therefore the Buddhas encourage people who liberated themselves from samsara, people like great Arhats of the Hinayana tradition, like the Shravaka Arhats, Pratyeka Arhats and people who achieved liberation, nirvana, Buddha encouraged them to enter into the Bodhisattva bhumi, Bodhisattva path. And cultivate bodhicitta, work for the benefit of all sentient beings. So, therefore, the Lam Rim teaching explains how to enter into the Bodhisattva path, how to become fully Enlightened One, or become Buddha, for the benefit of all sentient beings. And how to become Buddha step-by-step. And how to become Bodhisattva step-by-step. And explains the bodhicitta, cultivation of the bodhicitta.

And so the Great Scope has emphasis on meditating on sentient beings, to consider all sentient beings as one's own mother and father, brother, sister, family. And cultivate unconditioned love, random kind of compassion in everyday life. Cultivate as much as possible. To consider all beings our mothers, and to remember the kindness of others, and we should repay kindness towards others. And also cultivate love and compassion. And also cultivate supreme wish, and take responsibility.

And Buddha said to us that we should not think that sentient beings are numberless, therefore I can't really do very much. We should think, "Sentient beings are numberless, but I vow to save them." In the Zen tradition, always have saying, one of the Zen prayers, like vows they take every morning or every evening, probably if you've done Zen practice you know, it says, "Though the sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them." Zen is Mahayana tradition. So we don't say, "Though sentient beings are numberless, I give up! It's too much! Sentient beings are miserable and mean and too many. I give up." We don't say this. Sentient beings are, yes, numberless, almost numberless. And perhaps they are numberless. But we take vow to save as many as possible, as much as possible. If you save one person, one animal, one insect, it makes difference for that animal and this human being, this insect. That is the most important. That really matters.

So that's important, if you make one person happy, one time. And that is very important, that's very great, great achievement. In the sutra it says if you give one handful of rice or sunflower seed to the squirrel or chipmunk, it makes a day. I mean, the squirrel is probably starved, and he'll go into his little house and sleep, have a good sleep. And happy, instead of running around in hot sun, hungry and starving, hungry and in great danger of other predators, like owls and snakes, you know. If you give one handful of rice or sunflower to animal, like cow or horse, hungry animal, it is great merit. It is so beneficial.

And if you spend half the day, and look after disabled person, or lonely, very lonely person, lonely old person, old man, old woman. You know there are so many, in our society, there are so many old people, old woman or old man, old person who has no home, no family, suffering so much, so lonely. And unfortunately, in our society, this western society, people say, young people mostly, say, "Old people are like garbage. Unwanted, dirty, and we don't want them, we don't need them. Their time is finished, expired, and recycle them now. No good." Very sad. They are very sad. People have very little compassion. So if we spend, if you spend half the day, or even a couple of hours, and give cup of tea or coffee to someone, or just spend time, half hour, one hour one day, it makes a big difference. It makes the day for that person.

And also we have to think ourselves, how do we feel when we are sad and lonely and unhappy and sick, nobody around. If somebody comes around and help us, it makes so difference, and you feel like Bodhisattva appeared in front of you. Buddha appeared in front of you. So you are Bodhisattva at that moment, when you help somebody, make him happy. Even like half hour, one hour. And you are Bodhisattva at that time.

So the Great Scope is emphasis on practice of bodhicitta and compassion, and explains how to cultivate enlightenment, Buddhahood, for all sentient beings. This is called the "Great Scope" because the realization is so important, so powerful.

So, it's almost ten o'clock. I don't want to hold you here too long, and I'd like to end the talk here now. If you have any questions, you are most welcome.

Onward Onward to Three Stages, p.7

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