Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Ven. Tenzin Jamyang, a young Kopan monk now studying at Sera Je Monastery, at the entrance to Maitreya School and Tara Children’s Project, Bodhgaya, India, January 2018. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche sent a letter to a student who was experiencing a lot of obstacles, as well as fear, unhappiness, and worry. Here’s an excerpt from Rinpoche’s advice given in January 2016:

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,

I heard about your difficulties. As you know, all these difficulties do not exist from their own side, even though they appear like that to our hallucinated mind. The difficulty appears to exist from its own side, to exist by itself. It appears real, using ordinary language.

Basically, what you believe is difficult is just your mind thinking, your mind merely labeling, “This is difficult.” Your mind is merely labeling that it is difficult and that’s how it came into existence. When the difficulty appeared to you, even though it is merely imputed, it appears totally opposite, as though it never came from the mind and it was never merely labeled by the mind. That is totally a hallucination.

For example, we are living our whole life in a hallucination, so like that, everything—including the I, form, sounds, smell, tangible objects; everything that appears to our senses, to our hallucinated mind—appears as real, as if something is existing from there. However, it doesn’t appear real unless our mind merely imputes it first. Everything that appears real is not true, it is a total hallucination. It is a totally hallucinated real I, a totally hallucinated real action and a totally hallucinated real object.

While everything—I, action, object—is totally empty of existing from its own side, it exists in mere name. Everything—I, action, object—exists in mere name; it is merely labeled by the valid mind, on the valid base.

What we think is difficult, in a complicated way, is all made up by our own concepts, and is to do with our own concepts.

Let me say something, what the great bodhisattva Shantideva has advised:

Whatever befalls me,
I shall not disturb my mental joy;
For having been made unhappy, I shall not accomplish what I wish,
And my virtues will decline.
  — [Bodhicaryavatara, Ch. 6, v. 9]

There are so many problems in the West; also in the East, but especially in the West. If there is a way for the problem to be fixed or mended, what is there to dislike about it? If there is a method then do it, and if there is no method and no way to fix it, then why dislike it? If there is a way to fix the problem, then do it, and if there isn’t, then no need to be worried. It just makes us mentally sick and it also causes physical sickness. As it increases more, it brings more problems.

Why be unhappy about something
If it can be remedied?
And what is the use of being unhappy about something
If it cannot be remedied?
  — [Bodhicaryavatara, Ch. 6, v. 10]

Please think about this. It is what Shantideva advised and this is my advice to you. When you think this way, it will bring happiness to your life. …

Read the complete advice “Remedy for Obstacles, Fear and Worry,” posted in January 2018 by Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive on “Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book”:

More information, photos, and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s webpage on If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and FPMT via email, sign up to FPMT News.