How to be Free
by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche
A talk given by Ven.Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche on January 26, 1991 in a large tent at Root Institute in Bodhgaya.

When you meditate on compassion, you will feel more compassion by thinking of the reasons for compassion, such as how other beings are suffering, how they are kind, and how they are precious. They are experiencing the suffering of being overwhelmed by the karma of their actions and disturbing thoughts.

Yet how kind other beings are, they are the source of all one's past, present and future happiness including the ultimate happiness, Enlightenment. All the happiness, all the good things, all the protection, everything that one experiences, comes from the kindness of sentient beings. So when we think of again and again of how they are suffering, compassion will develop.

At the beginning one does not feel compassion at all for the enemy, for those who don't love you, for those that don't allow anything but anger towards you in their minds. Rather than looking at it in a negative way, however, look at it in a positive way. For example if one harms you, it is only called harm in the view of your own self-cherishing thought. You see, according to the view of attachment and worldly concerns such as clinging to the happiness of this life, the other person who criticizes or dislikes you is labeled as harmful. The mind interprets certain attitudes and actions, such as being criticized, as harm.
"Yet how kind other beings are,
they are the source of all one's past,
present and future happiness"
However, if the other person, instead of giving you this critical label, gives you a label such as wise or good or intelligent, the mind will not label harm. Here you can see that 'I like' and 'I don't like' are interpreted in this way by the mind. 'I don't like' is harm, 'I do like' is not harm. Actually if we analyze back to where this is coming from, the mind, there is no such thing as 'I like' or 'I don't like' that exists without depending on the aggregates, which are the formless phenomena (mind) and the body. You see 'bad' and 'good', 'harm' and 'help', are not coming from their own side, they are all coming from ones own mind. There is nothing anywhere that comes from its own side

Without depending on the aggregates, there is no "I" existing separately which has built the actions 'like' and 'dislike'. So you see when we say 'I don't like somebody', we are turning toward the side of the self-cherishing thought and the world of desire and clinging to this life.

You see these wrong conceptions regarding what a person does or thinks goes against the self-cherishing mind. This wrong conception is interpreted as harm. That is simply following one type of mind, it does not mean all one's thoughts are negative. When the mind is in the nature of loving kindness and compassion, when the mind sincerely wishes other sentient beings to be free of suffering, when the mind is compassion from the heart, it is different. With this mind one feels the other person is extremely kind, even while they are having anger towards us.

This compassion has to be developed depending on sentient beings who are experiencing suffering, by reflecting on how much those beings are suffering. In this way patience is generated dependent only on the person who is having anger towards you. You see there is no object other than the one who harms you, with whom one can develop patience. Buddha's teach patience but we must have the opportunity to practice that teaching.

A Bodhisattva is one who has completely abandoned the thought of working for themselves, and only has the thought to working for other beings in order to lead them to complete Enlightenment, which is peerless happiness. Bodhisattvas have no opportunity to practice patience on the friend who only gives help, or on the stranger, as their is no anger generated towards them. Only the person showing anger, gives the opportunity to practice patience which is required to achieve Enlightenment.

You see to actualize the practice of the path depends only on the person who harms us. Therefore the person with the extreme thought of hating us is so precious and extremely kind because they give us the opportunity to develop patience and achieve the fully knowing mind. Only somebody with the fully knowing mind has the power to reveal the methods as fitting to subdue beings. Only then can one perfectly guide sentient beings without the slightest mistake. These are the benefits one gets if you practice patience towards the one who directs anger towards you.

"For example if one harms you, it is only called harm
in the view of your own self-cherishing thought"
The Buddha is very kind, he reveals the path, and the Guru is very kind as he reveals the teachings of the path. But if nobody harms you then you have no opportunity to put the path into practice. That person with anger practically makes you actualize the path and develop loving kindness through thinking of their suffering. So one meditates, thinking how valuable and how important patience is.

In these days what is happening in the world (this was during the Iraq war) is a very good example of how important compassion and patience are. For example, if even one person, such as the leader of an army, does not have patience in their mind, there is danger that they can destroy the world. Look what happened in the past. Hitler for example killed millions of people. We hear about the number killed simply because one person did not practice patience. These historical things show the shortcomings if one does not practice patience. So this is an example of the benefits of practicing just one type of meditation, it brings a lot of happiness to many people.

Another thing is that by realizing emptiness, shunyata, one can remove all the anger, all the ignorance all the attachment, all the disturbing thoughts and all the suffering. If one develops this wisdom with the method of loving kindness, compassion and Bodhicitta, then one can remove completely even the subtle imprints left by the concept of true existence. One achieves not only Liberation but the Great Liberation of full Enlightenment.

If one, however, does not practice patience and one develops anger it destroys ones merits, the good karma that causes happiness. All of our happiness comes from good karma, positive actions. Anger then, causes us not to experience the results of our good actions, which are happiness, success and realization. So in order to have success in pacifying sufferings, we need to practice patience to protect our merit.

The person who helps you protect your merit is the person who helps you practice patience. This person is extremely kind. So while the mind is in the view of patience, that person having anger towards you should be seen as extremely kind, as they are helping your spiritual growth, they are helping you complete the path to Enlightenment.

This teaching has been heavily edited by Tony Simmons in June 1997 from transcriptions which were probably made by Kabir Saxena some years previously. The editor takes full responsibility for any errors or misrenderings of Rinpoche's holy Speech.