Lama Zopa Rinpoche arriving at the teaching venue, 100 Million Mani Mantra Retreat, Italy, October 2017. Photo by Piero Sirianni.

During the 100 Million Mani Mantra Retreat in Italy, Lama Zopa Rinpoche addressed a question on uniting politics and Dharma. Rinpoche’s answer, captured in the video clip below from the October 28 teaching, first shares the story of two Tibetans who offered service to His Holiness translating newspaper stories. They told Rinpoche they wanted to practice Dharma. However Rinpoche saw their translation activities as Dharma, because Rinpoche recognized that they were serving the Guru and that that is Dharma. 

Rinpoche then discusses the different kinds of motivation one can have when engaging in Dharma, emphasizing the motivation of “compassion to all sentient beings. On the basis of that [motivation], free the sentient beings from oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to peerless happiness, cessation of obscurations, completion of realizations; bring them there by oneself; then oneself to achieve enlightenment for that reason, as a method; then with this bodhichitta everything becomes cause of enlightenment, not only listening to Dharma, reflecting, meditating, everything, eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, doing job, everything.”

Rinpoche concludes that in order to have unity of politics and Dharma, one must first know Dharma. And that having the pure mind of bodhichitta is the best way to run the government. 

“This is the best way to run the government, with bodhichitta. You are like the servant; all sentient beings are the master,” Rinpoche says. “You are the servant. You serve the sentient beings. You are there for them, not they are there for you. Like that, your motivation is so pure, so there are not the problems [that we see happening] in the world.”

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation and community service.