Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching at Kopan Monastery, 2016. Photo by Ven. Sherab.

The achievement of both liberation from samsara and enlightenment depend on realizing emptiness—how the “I” and all phenomena do not exist at all from their own side, even though this is how they appear to us ordinary sentient beings.

In the new Living in the Path module “Are You Sitting on Your I?,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche speaks extensively about how the real I that appears to us is a total hallucination, how believing in a real I is the root of samsara, and how it is necessary to become free from this hallucination in order to achieve freedom from samsara and reach enlightenment.  

Rinpoche begins his teaching, given during the 2016 Kopan November Course, by pointing out that not only can a real I not be found anywhere, even a merely labeled I can’t be found anywhere, even though this I actually exists. In order to make this point clear, Rinpoche engages in a wonderful debate with the Kopan course teacher who has studied Madhyamaka philosophy extensively. Rinpoche manages to skillfully corner him with the consequence that if his merely labeled I is on his cushion — which the course teacher said it is — then he is sitting on his merely labeled I!

Watch the debate yourself on YouTube:

All of the modules of the Living in the Path program are available on the FPMT Online Center. This program is ideal for anyone who wishes to deepen their personal practice and develop the realizations of the path to enlightenment by relying on Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s heart advice and teachings. As the teachings often assume familiarity with the lamrim, participants are recommended to have previously received teachings in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Living in the Path is an FPMT education program.