‘You and Your Imprints!’ by HE Tsem Tulku Rinpoche

July 4th, 2012

Early in June, I decided to do a surprise visit and share some Dharma with the students who took their time away to engage in Lamrim recitation, part of the pujas to be completed before the renovation of our new Kechara House gompa begins.  (You can look at my previous post with some pictures here: Imprint – teaching at Kechara House)

I gave a talk on how one’s past imprints influence one’s current actions and what it is that one must do to break this cycle.

You can click the image below to listen to the talk, or you can go to http://www.youtube.com/tsemtulku and check out the title:

You and Your Imprints!


I am sure this talk can help many of you very much and answer questions. When I was talking, it was a great reminder for me also. May this talk clear much doubt on the virtues of breaking negative habituation and how it changes one’s life. And the lives of those around you. That is very important.

Tsem Rinpoche

July 4, 2010

Transcript for ‘You and Your Imprints!’

I talked about this twice, I talked about this last Saturday and I talked about this a few days ago, some of you may have heard it, some of you may not have heard it. For those of you who have not heard it, good for you. I am going to tell you about what’s happening. For those of you who have heard it, please re-listen to it and remember it so that you can share it with other people.

The importance of dharma is not to be selfish. The importance of dharma is when you learn something you share it with other people accurately. When you don’t listen to dharma carefully and also when you don’t memorise it, when you don’t focus on it, and you always rely on other people – this is another facet of selfishness. Why? Because you put the responsibility on other people. I give you an example. If you have been in dharma for more than three years, you should be able to already hold dharma classes to give teachings. Yes, you should be able to. If you are not able to give teachings and hold classes then it means there is something wrong with the way you have been learning, which is you are not really learning.  Because if you go on You tube, even in big Christian churches like in Singapore and stuff you have very new people getting up and talking in front of three, four, five, six hundred people, giving talks. They are very, very eloquent, very good. It’s very interesting

So that’s why it is very important for us to be interested. Now you guys are all reading one of the most important texts available today and let me explain to you why you are reciting it. In short, where its lineage comes from, what it is about and what’s the benefit. And why are you reciting the way you are. Why do we need to recite it a little louder? So that we and people around us can hear. Because all of you are here on a Saturday night and you are doing a great job and you are reciting it. So I think it’s my duty to explain to you why.

Let me tell you why. Because earlier for a short while I went on the webcam and I checked the whole organization what’s going on, what’s happening. I do it sometimes and I saw you guys here and I looked back, because sometimes the webcam gets stuck. So it’s like pictures from days ago and I go ‘oh so many people’, they go ‘no, no, no, that was three days ago’. Then I run here but nobody’s here. It has happened before, yes. So today I made sure this is ‘going to go up my nose’. I make sure that it was today, it was and I looked at the webcam, there’s so many of you here and I was very inspired. On the way here I had an obstacle but it was cleared. And so why I thought I’d come here and explain things to all of you? Because you deserve it. And I thought if I explained this to you about why you are here and why you are reciting and you understand it, it’s more rewarding to do what you are doing because you guys are smart people and if you get knowledge, you know what you are doing, you feel so much better. So I thought it’s my duty to let you guys know why you are here on a Saturday night reciting this and I know you guys – 60% of what you are reciting, you don’t know what they are talking about. But you are still doing it. So let me explain why, okay?

It’s broken down into two categories, what I want to explain to you. One is imprint and one is lineage. And I want everybody to listen very carefully and I want everybody to really focus and I want everybody to really absorb because this is knowledge I am giving you. Then you might think ‘oh but you are taking sometime away from recitation. Yes, but then your recitation will be even more beautiful, more powerful, alright?

Making offerings to a Buddha statue is wonderful but if you know why you are doing it, it becomes even more powerful, becomes more firm, alright? So for some of you, you’ve heard it, please listen again and maybe I’ll ask you one of these days to speak about it. Remember if you’ve been in dharma for more than three years, you should be able to teach dharma to other people convincingly already. Because if you are still not able to, no excuses, no justifications. I am busy, I am a housewife, I am a house husband, I don’t have time. I can name so many more powerful examples of people who are much more busier than you but still can do more things. It’s just if you want to or not.

Imprint – Imprint in Tibetan is the word bak-cha. Imprint means something that is planted in our consciousness, that is stored in our consciousness. We all know scientifically, imprints is something that is in our minds. That’s in our minds. Scientifically it is proven whatever you put in your mind, stays there. And you know how they prove it these days – through regression therapy or hypnosis. Hypnosis is an established, accepted mode of finding the truth, especially with police in the US. I don’t know about Malaysia but in the US.

So therefore hypnosis and regression is a method to calm your mind down, relax your mind so that you can remember things that cannot be remembered. What does that prove? That proves to you that your mind does not forget whatever it has seen or heard or remembered or registered. Let me repeat. The fact that under hypnosis “…”. Let’s not talk about previous life hypnosis. I am just talking about this life. It is clear and it is the absolute accepted scientific mode of investigation that when people go under hypnosis, they can remember things that they ordinarily cannot remember because of stress, because of fear, because of you know, being, how to say, forgetful or not concentrated or sometimes, sometimes, time, meaning it has been so many years already.

So therefore, through hypnosis people can remember events that are very, very, very distant and they can recall it. In America when I was there in the 80s, I heard that this was outlawed – subliminal advertisements. What is a subliminal advertisement? That in an advert, they actually have the advertisement – you know the commercials about twenty to thirty seconds, they show you an advertisement, but on the side on the corner of the screen they also flash something very quick and it is so quick that the conscious mind doesn’t pick it up but the subconscious picks it up. For example they are trying to sell you ice-cream and they are trying to say that this brand is very good, very good, very good but you see, that is just advertisement but they flash something on the side that say this is the best brand, don’t buy anyone else, they flash it like that. And you know what happens? A lot of people went out and bought this. And then people start suing each other because they say this is unfair. Why? What they planted subliminally, subliminally in the people’s mind through advert had more effect than the actual commercial.

So after a while there was this huge debate and there was this huge law cases and they completely outlawed subliminal advertisement, which means things they flashed on the screen just like this (Rinpoche whistles), not allowed anymore. Why? Because people remember that more. And it is amazing how the mind works. We are not talking about religion. We are talking about the power of the mind.

So hence an imprint is something we put in our minds and once we put that imprint in our mind, it’s remembered. For example if we were very young and we had a traumatic childhood and the childhood was not very good, perhaps we were abused, perhaps we were hurt, perhaps we were told we are fat, perhaps we were told we are ugly, perhaps we were told that we will never amount to anything, perhaps we were told that you know we had no skills, no talent, perhaps we were beaten, perhaps we were starved – those leave very powerful scars in our minds. And so when we get older, outwardly we may look like everything is fine but inwardly we may have a lot of anger – an anger that is uncontrollable. An anger that pushes people away. An anger that comes out and we cannot control it. An anger that once it comes out, even later when we’re embarrassed, we don’t want to say ‘I am sorry’ or face it. And it drives people away, it drives opportunities away, it drives the Buddhas away, it drives our friends away. Why does it drive people away? Because nobody wants to be around people who are full of anger. Nobody. Nobody wants to be around them.

So that may have come from an unresolved issue when we were very small kids. That when we were hurt or abused or beaten or told off or pressed down, we couldn’t fight back. We couldn’t talk back. We could not justify or ask for help because we were told to keep quiet. So then when we were told to keep quiet once, twice, three times, four times, this rage builds inside of us. And when that rage builds up, when we get older, when we are adults, we are in control, we can do things and no one can tell us anything anymore. We act out of that pain. We may not even know it, you know. We may not even know we are in pain. Do you know why? If people who have a lot of anger, one hundred percent, there’s something wrong with them and they have something inside of them. 100%, not 99%. 100% there is something wrong with them. Crazy? No. Bad? No. Evil? No. It means they were damaged. So for these people, when they act out of anger and again and again and again, they are protecting the pain that they feel, that they could not protect as a child. Let me repeat. The anger that they express to people around them is not that they are evil or bad. It is because that they are protecting something deep inside of them that they could not protect when they were a child.

A sign of uncontrolled anger is, the anger just doesn’t come down. It escalates. Another sign of uncontrolled anger is when people apologize or when things are right, they still want to make it wrong. They don’t want to lose face. They want to be right. What is that? It is a clear sign that they want control because they didn’t have control. So for people who have uncontrolled anger, there’re a few ways to approach it. One is, they have to control their anger. They have to listen to what people say. They have to listen to how they hurt people with their anger so that they don’t hurt people like they were hurt. Very important for people with anger is not to give up what they are doing or to throw away what they are doing or to run away from what they are doing or to not continue what they were doing. Very important. Why is that? Because when they stop doing what they are doing, they reaffirm the anger. They reaffirm the wrong way to protect themselves. And that comes from what? An imprint from a small child. The examples I gave you are just some examples, not the whole example. That’s one example.

Another example’s when we were very young, our adults, anybody could’ve “…” you know school mates, friends, families, neighbors, TV, movies, our heroes, could have been implanted in our brain, “hey money is everything, money is the key to life, money is the secret to life, and if you make a lot of money and if you gather a lot of money and if you have a lot of money and if you are living in a lot of money, you will be secured, you will be happy, you will be respected, you will have an easy life and you will be at peace. Someone plant that in your brain. Having money is necessary. Everybody wants money. I want money, you want money, everybody. Without money, how to even bring dharma to others. But you see, to believe in money and to sacrifice everything, friends, love, dharma, yourself, for money, you will regret it deeply. Do you know why?

No one in the world that has made an impact in the world tells you that money is security, is happiness, is the end in itself. No one. Not Buddha, not Jesus, not Mother Theresa… anyone you respected. Not even Bill Gates. You know what Bill Gates does? I mean Bill Gates gives one single house to every single child that he has and the rest of the money goes all to charity. And when they asked him why? He says because money doesn’t make my kids happy. He knows that. I am like ‘wow’ glad I am not your kid. I will be very upset if he gave away sixty billion dollars and what I get is a rotten house. Better not to be his kid right? But yes, even Bill Gates, the richest guy, I mean one of the richest people in the world, I think the second “…” I don’t know, I don’t care, tells you ‘no, I am not giving anything to my kids because I know that it didn’t make anyone happy. I am like ‘wow’, then why did you make all that money? Even he tells us that. So we run around saying ‘hey, I am going to go here to this, to that for money to make money to be independent, to have a good life, to make something for myself. You know what?

Someone put wrong information in your brain. You got the wrong imprint in your brain. And if you keep living like that, you will never ever going to be happy or have peace and you are going to find out when it’s too late. You know why? Because you are not living from the truth. You are not living. So what am I trying to say? That money is bad? No. What I am trying to say is wrong imprints. That’s my point. The focus here is not money or anger, wrong imprints. Then there are people who were totally little princes and princesses when they were kids. Nothing this little monster can say can be wrong. Nothing the little boy and girl can do is wrong. Nothing they can eat or sleep or any way they act can be wrong and they were nurtured and they were taken care of. And they were put on little golden thrones. They had golden beds, they had golden milk bottles. Everything was perfect and as they grew up they were perfect little princess and when they say ‘mummy, I want a Barbie doll’, they got a hundred. When they say ‘I want to go McDonalds, mummy gave them five thousand dollars ‘go buy whatever hamburgers you want’. And they didn’t have to work and if they failed in their jobs, mummy will give them more money, daddy will give them money. And you know what? It sounds funny but it is pathetically sad. You know what? These are the people who grow up to be nobodies, to be nothings. And to grow up to be mummy and daddy’s nightmare.

Do you know why they grow up to be mummy and daddy’s nightmare? Because they’re still thinking they are ten years old so everything free, give it to me but they are not, they can be twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty. You know how many mama’s boys and girls I have met in Malaysia? You know how many? I think 60% of the kids that I have met are mama’s boys and girls. And mama is not at fault. Mama and daddy gave them everything is because perhaps when mama and daddy were growing up, they have some problems and they don’t want their kids to ever suffer. I am sure it is for love. So I am not blaming the parents. I am not being diplomatic. So when the kids grow up, the kids who are smart, they say ‘you know what, I have a really easy life and I am going to just work because no matter how much I work to make myself successful, if I fall flat on my face, mummy, daddy still there. That’s how I would do it. Really I would do that. If I had my parents supporting me, anyways, which I don’t, I would do everything. I will try this, try that, try this, try that, try everything. You know why? There’s no way I can fail. There’s no failure except failure itself. What’s failure itself when I don’t try? I would work really hard. I would never ever be worried.

So for people who have grown up in this kind of atmosphere where everything is given to them easily and nicely and well, you may think it is cute when your kid throws a tantrum, they want this way, that way and you go ‘well I am a mummy, I could take care of them, what to do’. It may be cute when they are five, maybe ten, but not when they are fifteen. Not when your little princess or prince grows up and they are twenty and they are monsters. Not when they failed one job after another, they have bad manners, they embarrass people and they scream and they cry and they do all kinds of things for attention and these people grow up to be spinsters, Male and female spinsters because nobody can get along with them. And then they grow up further to be bitter older people who make other people bitter and older, that’s what you do to these people, that’s their future. Why is that their future? Whatever you do, it’ll be the result. So no matter how much you explain yourself or justify, that will be the result. Why?

You cannot get a Chinese male and a Chinese female and have a baby and the baby comes out African – cannot. You cannot get two Africans and have a baby come out Caucasian. You cannot get two Caucasians and baby come out American Indian. Okay, you cannot. If you have two Chinese and they have a baby, the baby has to be Chinese.

So if you have been lazy, sneaky, make justifications, don’t want to do work, of course your results cannot be successful. How can lazy and sneaky get merit and have success? I don’t understand. So if you are lazy, ‘hello lazy’ marry sneaky, they come out loser. You got to be a loser. And if you are a loser and your mama and daddy is going to support you, that’s beautiful, that’s wonderful. Maybe they will support you for the rest of your life. Maybe. But you know what? Unless the Buddha is wrong, it will be ‘pay back’ time. You will have to ‘pay back’. And then you are going to get it.

Karma has an ugly way of coming back and the horrible thing about karma is not the ‘Jade Emperor’ controls the world but it is your karma that controls you. So therefore if you have this imprint that when you were a little kid “…” hey listen, whatever I do, whatever I say, people will listen to me because I am cute. Honey, not anymore. Alright, not anymore, take a good look. I don’t think anybody will think you are cute anymore. And if they tell you you’re cute, it is because you are ‘off’. So they tell you are not, you are going to be hurt.

Okay, so that is an imprint when you are a kid. That’s an imprint. So every single imprint, every single imprint that’s put in our minds remains in our minds. (Tibetan word 0:20:03) Every single imprint you put in your minds will remain in your minds – every single imprint. Now, whether the imprints are secular, whether the imprints are secular meaning about money, about face, about success or if the imprints are dharmic, imprint is imprint; meaning once it’s put in your mind, it’s there. Once that imprint is put in your mind, it is there. How do you say imprint in Chinese, it is a good word. (yin-xiang). Imprints are never forgotten, they are stored in your minds. Please remember that. Please remember that. No matter how young you are and how old (you are). When the imprints are stored and you come across a situation where the imprints can be triggered, it will open up. For example when you have an imprint, it is in your mind, you know what happens. You need a trigger and the trigger must be something similar to the imprint. Let me repeat. If you want the imprint or if the imprint is to open up, it has to be triggered by something similar to itself. Example, I give you a very simple example.

Adrian has imprints that beautiful ladies who look nice will bring him great bliss. And that’s imprinted in his mind. Alright that is in his mind. So you have a beautiful lady walked by like Pam, he’ll go ‘oh, happy’. Happy. But if Tsem Rinpoche walked by… (Rinpoche making a sound) – nothing triggers. Nothing opens up. Nothing happens. Nothing at all. Ngeow walk by take off all clothes, he tries not to vomit.  It is a joke, but think about it carefully. Alright, so let’s say that when we are “…”. That’s one way of imprint. Every time he sees a pretty lady, every time he sees pretty Pam, every morning, he says ‘oh, I feel so happy, she’s so pretty’. Because when he was younger he sees a pretty lady will make him happy and that goes over and over again.

People who are controlling, people who are controlling, when they start losing control, “when people don’t do things their way”, it triggers that imprint of having control and then by anger, by shouting, by tricks, by manipulation, by tears, by ‘poor me’ tactics, they will, they will try to control the situation. And if they can’t, they walk out, they leave. Do you know why? Because they triggers the imprint and it goes over and over and over. Let’s give you another example, someone who grows up with a ‘hero’ that says ‘hey, money is everything, money makes you successful and happy, money is your savior’, okay. Money is the best thing in the world and if I have that, I will be happy, I will be secured, everything, right? So the minute someone says ‘hey, do you want to make money or maybe you want to do dharma work?’ ‘I don’t want to do dharma work lah, I want money’. ‘Because money make me happy, dharma work doesn’t make me happy’. That view is wrong but that’s what is in their mind since they were young. Maybe someone put them down when they were young, ‘you are poor, you are nothing. So they say, ‘when I grow up I will prove myself’. It can be many reasons. You see those people who reject doesn’t mean that they are bad. It just means that they are living out of their imprints.

This session and what I am teaching is not about good and bad. It is not about wrong and right. It is not about who’s bad and who good, who is to be saved. It is not about that. It is about how our mind operates and I want to use those examples that I gave you. Okay, for some people alright, some people, maybe when they were younger, their parents put them down and for many years they put them down and so when they grow up, you know what happens? They can’t take criticism. They cannot have anyone tell them that they are wrong or the way they are doing it can be better. And everybody got to be careful around them. Everybody’s got to tiptoe around them, everybody’s got ‘oh oh, blah, blah’ is here, we better be careful. Like a volcano. Why? Because anything will trigger them off. Why was anything trigger them off? Because when they were younger, when people told them that, they became angry, they couldn’t talk. Now they can.

Some people, opposite. Some people no volcano, like a calm lake. Some people when they are younger, they have no control, right? And they talk and talk and talk, they fight back, they talk. Someone say something, they fight back. Someone talk to them, they fight back. Someone criticize them, they fight back. Someone say something they don’t like, they fight back. They notice that fighting doesn’t get them anywhere because no one listens to them because they are young, no knowledge, nobody respects them, nobody. So they do it another way, they be quiet. They be quiet, they go inside, they don’t make noise, they don’t make any sounds, they look like everything is normal and they don’t even make comments and they completely become silent. And no matter how much you say or do or help or love, they never open up and they never talk. They never ever come out. Do you know why? Because when they were younger, it was imprinted in their minds, if they talked back, no one is going to listen, better they keep quiet, it’s better than to show they are not happy. It is a better way to show people that they keep silent hostility and that’s the way they fight back. And being quiet doesn’t make them happy, also for the other person who shout back don’t make them happy either. Because they are not shouting or talking from peace, it’s from damage.

Maybe I did some business with this nice lady ten years ago. Maybe I did business with her. Then I had a bad experience with her, very bad. So in the future I don’t want to. I don’t want to do business, I don’t want to do this work. Maybe I don’t want to do dharma work with her or secular work or whatever. And every time people ask me to do something or try something that can benefit many people, I don’t want to do it. Do you know why I don’t want to do it? Because I keep reflecting back on what happened with this lady. And so the whole world and everybody is exactly like this lady, it’s her fault even though it wasn’t. And so every time somebody asks me to do dharma work or secular work or something, anything, it triggers that fear, ‘aiyoh, last time I work with this lady, it become like that’. I am not ready, I can’t, I run, I can’t, I can’t do it, don’t make me. If you force me, I run. You know why they talk like that, act like that? Because they choose to hold on to the pain. You see they were hurt and they were scarred, it’s definitely true. People hurt people. Let’s not put this dharma thing off. There’s no emptiness, there’s no hurt, everything emptiness, you know. Everything you feel is nothing, empty.

Heart Sutra – no ear, no eyes, no nose, no feeling, no tongue, no smell, no nothing. No, no gay, no straight, no nothing. Yes, that’s ultimately. That’s here, that’s Buddha Shakyamuni and Kuan Yin and Manjushri. But for clowns like me and you, got ears, got tongue, got feelings, got hurt, got greed. For clowns like us, got. So is that dualism? No, it’s not dualism. It is at our level, got.

So if you are practicing Buddhism and reading Lam Rim and you have a teacher and you are doing mantras and prayers, let me share something with all of you. Of course you got pain. But do you know how to get rid of it? Let me share it with you – by not avoiding it and running away from it. And if you need to be hurt by another hundred or two hundred times in order to overcome it, go for it. Do you know why? Now, so you know how to get over that pain? When someone say something to you and you feel like shutting down and closing up, don’t. Don’t shut down and don’t close down. Don’t. Speak up, express, share and when they slap you down again, speak up, express and share. You know why? It’s not about them putting you down, it is about you allowing to be put down. It’s not about them. It’s about you. You can’t change the whole world. You can’t make everybody act and think the way you want and then you will do what you are supposed to do. You can’t. So the next time you want to shout and you want to throw a ‘BF’. I mean really a ‘BF’ just to get back because you are so hurt – don’t. And it’s very hard, but it’s harder if you keep shouting. It’s harder if you withdraw. It’s harder for the rest of your life if you withdraw and run away. That’s more hard than dealing with the pain. And if you believe in karma and reincarnation and next life, that’s all the more reason we should deal with it because you are going to take it with you in your next life which I am going to show you in the videos. You are going to take it with you. Whatever the trauma you are feeling you will take it with you.

There are some people who can remember their lifetime two hundred years ago but nothing in between. You know why? Because what happened to them two hundred years ago was more traumatic than what happened a hundred years ago. Example, if this nice guy came up to you when you were a little kid and gave you a big fat slap, right? And took your lollipop (Rinpoche making funny sound). And then this guy gave you a lollipop, this guy gave you a lollipop, this guy gave you a lollipop, this guy molested you, you are going to remember this guy and this guy. You know what? It was more traumatic. No, he didn’t molest me, no lah. I will tell you who he molested. (laughter) No-lah, he didn’t molest nobody, he’s not the type, I am just kidding.

My point is this – things that are more traumatic, you will remember more. And that’s why even if it happened five hundred years ago, you will remember. That’s why there are some Rinpoches who are great teachers and great scholars and great writers or great illuminators of the dharma. Even five, six hundred years later when they come back, even when they are very young, they will do the same thing again. Do you know why? Because that imprint 2qw stronger than the food they ate, the language they spoke, or the language that they write in. There’re some Rinpoches that come back, they are very bad in Tibetan, very bad. But for their previous life, they were Tibetan what? It didn’t make an imprint. It was the action.

So like that, I can have all of you give me a lollipop but I will remember the guy who took my lollipop away. Do you know why? I am going to get you. Do you know why? Because that was very traumatic. I was four, I was innocent, I was very cute. And I was just running along ‘hop-skipping’ having a nice lollipop, sucking on it and singing a nice little song by Madonna – something innocent like ‘I am a virgin’ and this monster came along saying ‘hi little boy can I see your lollipop?’ I am like ‘yes I am “…”. (Rinpoche making a sound). I am like ‘oh no’ and I cry for an hour, two hours. So later when I grew up to be such a beautiful slim handsome monk. What are you laughing at? I said handsome and slim and everybody is like ‘eh eh eh eh’. I have my own illusions and delusions. We all see the way we want to see. If I stand in front of a circus mirror, I’ll be very slim, the one that goes like that, like that, very slim.

Anyways, so when I grow up to be the handsome slim person that I am, if someone says ‘can I see your lollipop?’ (Rinpoche gasps) Why? That memory sticks with you. How come the others doesn’t? Don’t you have memories in your mind that stands out stronger than others? Because they were more traumatic. So if something is more traumatic, it’s not that you don’t remember other things, it’s that that stands out. That’s why even after two, three hundred years, why do they remember that previous life over that life? It was more traumatic. Or it could have been even more better than other lifetimes, they felt better. They will remember it. Okay, that’s called an imprint.

So therefore, if imprints are possible for five years ago, six years ago, ten years ago, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, it can be possible for a hundred, two hundred years ago, three hundred years ago. So you can remember your previous lives. You can have imprints in it, one hundred percent.

Now, imprints are that important. So whatever imprints we have received, we live from those imprints. Fear, happiness, joy, sharing, selfishness, giving, generosity, miserliness, anger, peace, harmony – those are all results of the imprints we have experienced. Whatever you’re experiencing now is the imprints you planted in your mind a few years back. So whatever imprints you are planting in your mind now is what you are going to experience in a few years later. And the cycle goes on. Does everybody understand? So if I am sad, I am depressed, poor me, I am not successful, I need your help, I can’t do it, I won’t make it – you know what? You are right. You are not going to make it and you are going to keep losing out. Oh, I will do dharma work later. You will never do it later, I promise you. Never. You will never ever do dharma work later. You know why? Because you don’t create the causes.

So if your teacher gives you an assignment, or you made a promise, ‘hey I am going to do dharma work’ and then later you run away, you don’t do it, anger or whatever lah, trauma. It’s not you’re bad, but let me make it clear to you, you will never do it later, never. I didn’t say you won’t be in dharma, you will never do dharma work. You know why? Because you don’t create the causes. If you never had a baby, don’t tell me how you are going to raise your baby when you have it. Don’t talk about that. I want to have a beautiful little girl, I always want a little girl, I want a pink room, I want a pink blanket, I want to be pink and I am going to call her ‘pink’. Everything is pink. But if you never have a beautiful little girl, you are going to be in that pink bedroom wrapping yourself in a pink blanket that’s it. So it’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen.

Oh, I want to get a date, I want to get a lover, I want to get a friend, I want to get this, I want that, don’t make fun of me, don’t make fun of my insecurities, don’t make fun of my body, don’t make fun of me, don’t make fun of my character, don’t make fun of me because if you do I am not going to talk to you, I am going to ignore you, I am going to throw a ‘BF’. That’s great, for you. But how many ‘BFs’ are people going to take from you because you’re a nobody. You are nothing. You know why you are a nobody and you are nothing? Not because you really are, because you chose it. So if you keep putting that imprint in your mind, later you will have the same imprint. ‘I don’t have time, I am tired, I am scared to do it’. You are scared. Maybe you don’t have time in your subjective opinion. Maybe you really do feel like this. You know, I am not denying your feelings and how you are at the moment. I am not denying that. What I am saying is “…” but you will continue to be fearful or deny or run or not do. Do you know why? Because that’s what you are doing now and your mind now and your mind later is one mind.

How can two Chinese have a Caucasian baby? How can two Caucasian have an African baby? How can a beautiful African couple have a Chinese baby? Cannot. So how is it now you cannot do it now, you cannot do, you cannot do, you don’t want to do, you don’t have time, you don’t have the ability, you are ‘poor me’, I don’t want to, it has to be like that, like this, like that, and you make all these conditions and you can’t do it, later you won’t.

I know some of my students who have been with me fifteen, sixteen years, they are still telling me they can’t. They are still telling me they cannot. And I go ‘oh my God’, ‘you are one hundred years old, when are you going to do it?’ Some of them I tell them directly, some of them I don’t. You know why? Depends on their level. It’s not me. It depends on their level. Some people I tell directly, some people I don’t, some people I go around the block, some people I am very nice, some people I am very fierce. You know why? Depends on their level. If their level is very low and they are very traumatized and they don’t want to deal and they run away easily, I don’t say much, I don’t do much. I just smile ‘oh you are wonderful, you are beautiful, you are a Buddha’. Why? That’s their level. I don’t say much. It’s not I’m afraid. It’s not that I am afraid. So, imprint is very important. Therefore every single thing that you do leaves an imprint. Everything that you do leaves an imprint in your mind. You know what it is called? It is called (Tibetan word). That’s a philosophical word in Buddhism, in Tibetan Buddhism. (Tibetan word). And (Tibetan word) is very important.

Hence, if you see an image of the Buddha and what His body represents. The ‘Eighty Four Thousand Teachings of the Buddha’ is encompassed in His body. And His hand and His mudra and His sitting and His face and His structure and His way of sitting. Everything has a meaning. The meaning is not imputed. The qualities that a Buddha has are not imputed. It exists on its own. Why is the qualities of a Buddha not imputed? If the qualities of a Buddha is imputed then the Buddha cannot be out of samsara. Only a fully enlightened being has qualities that are imputed but exists on its own.

Imputation! He is a bad person, he is a good person, he is rich, he is poor, he is helpful, he is nice, he is loyal, he is a ‘back-stabber’, he is not nice, he is handsome, he is ugly – those are imputations because they don’t exist. You know why they don’t exist? Because the one person say ‘oh he is my good friend, I like him, he is very nice. The other person say ‘no, I don’t like him’. So who’s right and who’s wrong? Since there’s no right or wrong, the subjective view must be imputations. The imputations based on a past imprint, previous imprints. Then people say ‘well, same thing for Buddha, some people blow up the Buddha statue’. They say it’s bad, it’s demonic, it’s satanic. Correct. That is imputations. Why? Because if we check out Buddha’s teachings, it’s nothing there that’s negative and horrible. That’s imputed by the perceiver. I am going into philosophy with you. Hence, existing on its own or existing on imputations is what we are dealing with now and those arise from imprints. Listen carefully, don’t blank out because it gets a little deep. Do not blank out because it gets a little deep. You know why? Because you are reinforcing the mind that I can’t think deeper. I don’t want to think deeper. I don’t want to dwell deeper. Wrong.

Since the existence of a Buddha and its positive qualities of wisdom, compassion and skillful means does not arise from our imputation but it arises from His or Her attainments such as Tara or Tsongkhapa. Then when we perceive the positive qualities of a Buddha, it is not imputed perception. It is perception of the actual actuality. Hence when it is imputed from actuality, it plants imprints. That means when you see the legs of a Buddha folded together in meditational equipoise, that means through three eons of severe dharma practice, He has become the Awakened One. Hence when you see the Buddha’s leg, grab like this. It implants in you asceticism, practice and effort. Aren’t you lucky?

So the next time people talk to you about that – having seen the Buddha’s leg, you will not give up asceticism. Because why? When people talk to you about that, it will trigger the imprint of the Buddha’s body. But you said ‘I don’t know the meaning’. Correct. You don’t need to know the meaning. Because it’s existed. It is not dependent on your perception or imputation. A Buddha’s quality is unchanging. Your qualities are changing. Your qualities are changing because you are living from self cherishing mind – imputations. Hence your qualities change. That’s why people change. A Buddha’s quality does not change. Hence that is one of the reasons a Buddha is a perfect object of refuge. That’s why a Buddha is a perfect object that we can take refuge, prostrate, see and plant imprints with and wear on our bodies. That’s why we should have beautiful altars, beautiful images, beautiful thangkas and we should make beautiful shrines because everyday you see it and it plants imprints.

You say but I don’t understand. They don’t have to understand. They don’t have to understand. You see, if I give you a ‘one hundred dollar’ bill (US), US dollar bill, does it itself have power of one hundred dollars. Yes or no? Yes, unless the US mint goes bankrupt right? It has power. Wherever you go, it’s US dollars. You go to Indonesia, you change it, its five million rupiahs, whatever it is. You guys understand? So if I give this one hundred US dollars to Nicholas, he says ‘oh thank you, can we be friends?’ He’s very happy. If I give it to some Tibetan in Tibet who’s never been educated, doesn’t see the dollar, doesn’t use money, they barter, ask Monlam. They barter. You know I give you one piece of cheese, you give me one piece of yak meat okay, no money. So if I go to Tibet and I give Monlam’s mother one hundred US dollars, she will say ‘oh nice paper’. It’s not she is stupid, she doesn’t know. Even if Monlam’s mother doesn’t know the value of a hundred US dollars, does that mean that the US hundred dollars does not have value? No. So the value of the US dollars is not imputed is it? Is it imputed? Is the value of the one hundred US dollars imputed in the mind everybody? Louder please, or else I go home. (No). Thank you. But it has value on its own correct? Okay, if I give you a piece of paper and I write it’s worth a hundred US dollars and I give it to Nicholas, I say ‘I owe you’. Will that have value for him? It might, if we are very good friends, I never cheated him right. But if I never met him and I say ‘give you a hundred dollars, I owe you’. He say ‘see you later, here’s a big kite, fly it’.

So that value on a piece of paper, is imputed or not? Yes or no? It’s not a trick question, come on. (Yes). Anybody went to school here? Got right? Is the value written on a hundred dollars imputed? (Yes). So therefore it doesn’t have value on its own, right? The one hundred dollars written on a piece of paper is our fears and insecurities and our perception of our situation. The one hundred US dollars from the US mint is Buddha. Does everybody understand that? I am afraid of dharma work. Do you know what I am afraid of? Let me tell you what I am afraid of. I am afraid of rotten microphones that don’t stay on my ear. I am paranoid. Paranoid about that. And I lost weight, this is falling down. I have. These days I don’t have to put the belt here or here, just here lah. It’s true I lost weight. You think where? I lost weight. There’s no more holes to go. It keeps falling down. Thanks. We got into our last hole. That belt’s hole is way back here, I can’t fit that belt hole for years but I could now. You know why? Because I have been on a diet. You know what kind of diet? They made me go on cream cheese. Aiyo this one so nerdy I tell you. How to torture your teachers that he never gives a dharma talk.

Okay. Hence, if we operate on imputed value or imputation, we always get something wrong. If we operate on the truth or actual existence, actual existence, we will win. You know why we will win? Truth cannot be altered. Truth cannot be altered. So let’s say Professor Choi was a monster. For the rest of my life I think she is a monster, maybe not. Maybe she wasn’t a monster, maybe I was the monster, so she acted like that with me to protect herself, I don’t know that. And maybe thirty years later when I meet her, she is so soft and nice and gentle and I go ‘oh you are so nice’. You see that could happen with Professor Choi but it couldn’t happen with Buddha. I couldn’t go back to Buddha a year later, He is a monster. It is impossible. Because His attainments are not imputed. Hence we can take refuge in the Buddha. Hence we can prostrate to the Buddha. Hence we should bring statues of the Buddha to our home. Hence we should prostrate and make offerings and make refuge to the Buddha. Hence we should recite our prayers and meditation in front of the Buddha without ever stopping. That’s more important than anything else. Why? Because the goodness that we see on Buddha is not imputed. It is existing on its own.

Those who feel sorry for themselves, those who don’t want to improve or change or push themselves, those who are still greedy and still scared and still don’t want to do more – they are living on past imprints. Those imprints were made in their minds and they are living on it. How do they break it? Through practice, through study, through contemplation and most of all, effort. So when they come across a difficult situation, they got to do it. If they come across a difficult situation and they don’t do it and they run, then they are going run again and again and again and again. And they say ‘oh I will do it five years later, I will do it one year later, I will do it ten years later’. No, you won’t.  You will not. From my experience, you will not. Do you know why you will not? You know why? Because you never have done it before to create causes to do it. Always. And if you finally do it because you are desperate or you are at wits end or you are at the end of your life and you do it, you are not really doing it either. Do you know why you are not really doing it? Because you are not doing it because you want to, you have nothing else to do. So therefore we should not wait for that.

Now, if by seeing a Buddha statue we can find imprints, anything and everything in our lives create imprints. If we meet a monk and we show respect and we are humble and we walk by with a humble and respectful attitude, you know what happens? You will create the causes for yourself to be able to hold your vows, your commitments and your samaya clean. Do you know why? Because a monk is a monk, by virtue of their vows. So if you are disrespectful to a monk, if you are rude to a monk, if you don’t follow their instructions or show any type of deference and you always cover and you always even dare talk about them, you create the causes that you will be sleepy during dharma talks, you will be sleepy during dharma, your dharma work will not be clear, you are going to fight the dharma and you won’t be able to hold your vows and you will break your vows over and over and over again until you can’t hold your vows. The worst thing is during dharma talk, you will be very sleepy, very very sleepy. Do you know why? The highest giving, the highest form of giving and the highest form of receiving is giving the dharma and receiving the dharma. The highest form. Why is that the highest form? Because it penetrates to the truth and you receive the truth.

Hence, you observe people and their actions and how they act. People who are close to their teachers, close to the Buddha, they are close to the truth, are not defensive, do not shut off, can take criticism, do not show a black face, but they exude or exude or emanate compassion, understanding, wisdom, maturity. Why? Being close to the guru is not the physical guru. Being close to the guru means having listened to the teachings and practice. You will change. Even for some of you, having listen to your guru, listen to the dharma, how has your mind receive some wisdom and calm down? How has your mind found a little solace? Yes, your mind still jumps, you still get angry, you still get disappointed, you still feel upset, you still feel like giving up sometimes, but how much less has it become. That will prove to you that being close to the Lama, the teachings of the dharma has a beneficial effect on your mind, has a beneficial effect. Why does it have a beneficial effect? Because the Lama or the teachings of the dharma gives you something that when you check with your mind, it makes sense. It is not based on fear. It is not based on threats. It is not based on ‘you will go to hell’. It is not based on any of that.

That’s why in Buddhism we don’t tell everybody else, if you are not Buddhists you go to hell or you are satanic or you are wrong or you are going the wrong way or we want to burn their images, burn their Saints, burn their religious iconography. We never say that. Buddhists never say that in the twenty six hundred years it’s been existing on this earth. It never ever threatens other religions, puts them down, burns their iconography, tells them they are satanic, they are wrong, they are going to hell, never. Buddhists always say respect them, make them happy, don’t disturb people, understand their religion. They are people, we are people, we all want to be happy. Let’s be happy together. Let’s not find differences but similarities. No Buddhist teacher of any Buddhist tradition will put other religions down and threaten you with other religions or threaten other people of other religions with Buddhism. Never, but you will hear that from certain, not religions, certain fanatical people. That, if you don’t accept what they are saying, it’s demonic, it’s satanic, they will burn “…”. You know I heard of people who come to people’s home and take their Taoist images and burn them. They burn their images, and they reap things and they say ‘oh we did such a good thing, hallelujah! It’s horrible. I would never go to a Chinese home, take their Taoist deities “…”. I don’t believe in the Taoist deities in the sense of taking refuge but I respect them. Because that’s five thousand years of culture. How you say before us, everything was wrong. If everything before us was wrong, everybody in China is wrong. China is not successful. China is stupid. China is not a great culture, is not a great country. Everything they did was wrong. That’s not true. That’s not true.

Before we brought religion, our religion to China, everybody went to hell. What? So if you accept my religion, everybody from now on goes to heaven. But before that you go to hell. So my grandmother went to hell, her grandmother, her grandmother, all. My grandmother was such a beautiful lady to me, I don’t think she is in hell rotting away. I think she is sitting next to Tsongkhapa having tea. I don’t think she went to hell because she didn’t accept their religion. And their religion is later. So we can get into this ridiculous debate. You see we can find all these differences but we don’t have to. You know why? Nobody wins. Nobody ever wins. Nobody will ever win. Past, present and future, there will be deaths, disharmony, destruction, murder, killing, for religion – cannot. So it is better as religious people, as Buddhists religious people, we respect other religions and we don’t threaten them. If you are not Buddhist you don’t go to Kechara Paradise. ‘Honey, you guys are not going to go to Kechara Paradise either if you don’t practice just because you are Buddhist. ‘Oh, I took refuge, my refuge name is ‘Tenzin Imprint’ and I am going to go to Kechara Paradise because I took refuge. I wished it were that easy. I wish all of us can take refuge and we can do whatever we want, hop-skip, jump. You know go kill chickens or KFC. We can do whatever we want, and we still go to Kechara Paradise. I don’t think so. You know why? You don’t go to heaven just because you get upset of suffering. You don’t become a doctor just because you say I want to go to medical school. You don’t become healed just because you say ‘oh the doctor is excellent’. You become healed when you go for treatment, you finished your medical school or you do your dharma practice.

So what we want to do as Buddhist here and everywhere is not to criticize and to put other people down or to threaten them with our religion, that’s not what we want. You know why? It does not give them peace, it does not give us peace. And if they run around and say ‘oh my God, you’ve got statues in your house, we are going to burn it, you are going to go to hell, burn, hell, burn’. You just go ‘Uhmm, I don’t think so. I don’t think by being kind and compassionate and loving, forgiving and being filial and respecting the law and being good people and generous will make me go to hell. Because if that makes me go to hell, the God that who create you is a very fierce, jealous, ugly God and I don’t think He is like that. And if I am not Buddhist and Mr Loo is a scary, scary fundamentalist Catholic. Not a real Catholic because those are real nice people. Look at Mother Theresa – I will prostrate and put my head of her feet. She is a beautiful person.

But he is a fundamentalist Catholic. And he’s going to rent a place from my “…”. I have a shop-lot. Lets pretend I own it. I am a Mongolian Mongol. And then he is going to rent a place from me, and he’s going to promote his thingy. And I said you know what? This came from a real life situation but never mind.  And if I rented to him, then my God will not bless me because I am helping him promote his God. In the last two months I come across people like that. They don’t want to rent because you are promoting your God and their God won’t give them blessings anymore. That’s what they say. I was like “…”. I felt like saying ‘do you know I am?’ But never mind. Do you know that I could debate with you until the cows come home and they go out again and you will still not convince me. I want to say ‘do you know who I am?’ Not that I am a Rinpoche, not that I’m like, come on I am a little smarter right? I will not let this peasant from Tibet that came out eating yaks – hello. That’s what they actually say – that if they rent this place to us, because we are not their religion, then their God will not bless their business and they will not be successful. I was like ‘God quite meticulous huh?’ He remembers everyone who didn’t follow his law, very meticulous. He must be Yoke Fui, the accountant. Can you imagine in the sky there’s Yoke Fui there, ‘you rented your shop lot to him for three years – no heaven. You know Yoke Fui. Where is she? You know Yoke Fui. She will say ‘oh excuse me, we are going to do Wesak Day, it’s going to cost us a hundred dollars’. No answers, she gives you the ‘sigh’ look. I think if we can see God as Yoke Fui “…” just kidding. Yoke Fui is wonderful. Personally, I think God is Mr Ngeow But then again that is imputed. And you like that one – it is imputed. Yes it is imputed.

Now so every imprint that we do, put something in our minds. Does everybody understand that? For this life and future lives. And when that imputation is put in your mind, put inside your “…” this is your consciousness alright? It is put inside your consciousness – it stays there until it’s triggered or purified or resolved. You know how you purify it? You can talk about it. You can do practices. You can resolve it and it’s purified, it’s gone, then there’s nothing there. Nothing. But if you leave it there, it can become more. Why? If there’s something in a cup, it can gather dust and bacteria faster and easier. So like that you have to purify and have to get out. So therefore if you are afraid of doing “…”. Let’s just use dharma work because we are here. If you are afraid of doing dharma work, you shouldn’t be. You know why? It’s not dharma that scares you, it’s not dharma that creates problems for people. And people can change, situations are different. It’s another place, it’s another time, it’s another guru. Things are different. So why do you have to keep living the same thing over and over like a bad movie? Do you ever watch a bad movie – you play over and over or turn on some other movie? Another movie right? Why you play over and over again? Change the movie, change the CD. Okay for some of you guys, change the VSH tapes. Now, imprints are that important. So if you are feeling depressed, you are feeling unhappy, you are feeling down, you are feeling sad, you are feeling sorry for yourself – you know why? Because that’s what you’ve been doing. So will continue and continue and continue. Unless you say it’s enough, it will never stop.

Proofread by: Wan Hong

Be Your Own Therapist

Recognising the faults of the mind one can overcome these faults through practice:

Faults: The Three ‘Poisons’ of the Mind

1 Attachment – meditate on impermanence leading to renunciation of the pleasures and desires of this life

2 Aversion – developing bodhicita (compassion) through meditating that all mother sentient beings were once one’s mother

3 Ignorance – developing wisdom through recognising that all phenomena are illusory

Vajrasattva Prctice – Faces of Enlightenment: Tsem Tulku Rinpoche







Our negative harmful action multiply daily because they join with all those we have already accumulated since beginningless time.  In this way, out bad habits which will create more damage in our lives and others’ continually become stronger and stronger.

Greed, hatred and confusion arise from our self-centredness and the resulting thoughts, feelings and actions are like a deadly virus, infecting everything until it feels completely natural to give up good things and follow our lower instincts.

The suffering, chaos and inequality we experience is the result of karma that is generated in this way. Yet it is said that there is no action which cannot be purified if the “four opponent powers” are present and exercised:

1 Regret over our actions

2 Having refuge in the Three Jewels to purify our negativities

3 Applying the antidotes such as purification practice

4 Promise not to repeat the action

By relying on Vajrasattva practice, gross and subtle negative imprints can be purified from our mind stream and we can break the chain of negativity that hold us down.  Then we can start anew – crystal clear ~ HE Tsem Tulku Rinpoche


Sanskrit with extensive English translation:

oṃ benzasatto
The most excellent exclamation of praise, the qualities of Buddha’s holy body, speech, and mind; all that is precious and auspicious. Vajrasattva, you whose wisdom is inseparable bliss-emptiness,

samaya manu pālaya
And whose pledge must not be transgressed, lead me along the path you took to enlightenment,

benzasatto teno patiṭa
Make me abide close to your holy vajra mind,

dṛiḍho me bhava
Please grant me a firm and stable realization of the ultimate nature of phenomena,

suto kayo me bhawa
Please grant me the blessing of being extremely pleased and satisfied with me,

supo kayo me bhawa
Bless me with the nature of well-developed great bliss,

anu rakto me bhawa
Bless me with the nature of love that leads me to your state,

sarva siddhi  me par yatsa
Please grant me all-powerful attainments,

sarwa karma sut tsa me tishtam shriyam kuru
Please grant me all virtuous actions and your glorious qualities,

Seed syllable of the vajra holy mind, the heart essence and seed syllable of Vajrasattva,

ha ha ha ha hoḥ
Seed syllables of the four immeasurables, the four empowerments, the four joys, the four kayas, and the five wisdoms,

bhagawan sarwa tathāgata benza
You, who are the vajra of all who have destroyed every obscuration, of all who have attained all realizations, of all who have passed beyond suffering, and of all who have realized emptiness and know things just as they are,

mā me muñ tsa
Do not abandon me,

benza bhawa
Grant me the nature of indestructible union, the realization of your vajra nature,

mahā samaya satto
You, the great pledge being with the holy vajra mind,

Make me one with you.
Syllable of uniting in non-duality.

Syllable of the wisdom of great bliss.

Syllable that clarifies the wisdom of inseparable bliss-emptiness and destroys the dualistic mind that obstructs realization.

Whatever manifestations of realms, palaces and forms there are, peaceful and wrathful deities, they do not exist on a gross level. They are forms of shunyata endowed with all the supreme qualities. Therefore, they are known as possessing the aspect of being without self-nature. The minds of those buddhas are completely filled with the wisdom of unchanging non-dual bliss emptiness. Therefore, they are known as possessing the aspect of union. Their body, speech, and mind are eternally filled with the taste of great bliss, free from increase and decrease. Therefore, they are known as possessing the aspect of great bliss.

-Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche