Lama Zopa Rinpoche spinning prayer wheels at Atisha Centre, Bendigo, Australia, April 2018. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

“Achieving enlightenment by depending on Buddha, Victorious One, is exactly the same as achieving enlightenment by depending on sentient beings,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaches during a session of the 2017 Light of the Path retreat, captured in this six-minute video clip.

“By depending on the Buddha, you achieve enlightenment. So, you think the Buddha is so precious, so important. So why not [think this way about] sentient beings? Because you achieve enlightenment by depending on sentient beings. Buddha came from sentient beings, Dharma came from sentient beings, Sangha came from sentient beings—in whom you always take refuge when you begin a practice,” Rinpoche says.

Rinpoche reminds students that sentient beings are the source of every happiness up to enlightenment and should be regarded as most precious.

“So when you think, ‘there is ant, there is a worm, there is a worm being eaten by bird or chicken or something, or insects attacked by ants or something, mosquito or something,’ then you think, ‘The numberless buddhas came from this insect, numberless buddhas, as well as Dharma, as well as Sangha, the three rare precious ones, rare sublime ones, numberless.’”

“Achieving Dharma from the Buddha is the same as sentient beings, it is exactly the same, exactly the same. So as you respect the Buddha, why not respect the sentient beings?” Rinpoche says.

Watch Rinpoche teach “By Cherishing Sentient Beings You Will Achieve Enlightenment”:

Quoted text based on the unedited transcript for the 2017 Light for the Path retreat, which you can find here with video recordings of the complete teachings:

Watch Lama Zopa Rinpoche teach during the Bodhicaryavatara and Rinjung Gyatsa Retreat at The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Bendigo, Australia, March 30-May 12, 2018.

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.