Everything Comes from the Mind

by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche

How Things Exist ImageEverything comes from our own mind. Since everything is merely imputed and all imputation comes from our mind, everything comes from our mind. All appearances happen by labeling; whatever appears to us happens by labeling. Again, all the appearances of life come from our mind.

The appearance of a friend comes from our mind. Before we label “friend,” there’s no appearance of friend. Because someone loves us or does something good for us, we label her “friend” and she then appears to us as a friend; because another person doesn’t love us or harms us, we label him “enemy” and he then appears to us as an enemy. These appearances come from our own mind. When our enemy appears, an unpleasant feeling arises in our mind; when our friend appears, a pleasant feeling arises in our mind. All this is created by or originates from our own mind.

Without labeling “snake,” there’s no appearance of snake; after labeling a piece of rope at dusk “snake,” a snake appears. It’s the same with a person who doesn’t know that George Bush is the president of America. At first she sees just the appearance of a man. After somebody tells her that he’s the American president, she then also labels

“This is the American president.” After she has imputed this and then believed in her own label, the American president then appears to her.

It’s like this from morning to night, from birth until death. It’s like this with the whole of samsara and nirvana. It’s like this with everything that appears to us: with my seeing you and your seeing me and this temple and everything else, including the American president. Everything that appears to us comes from our own mind.

This is also an important point to remember in our daily life, especially when we’re in situations where there’s a danger of creating confusion and problems and heavy negative karma. If we think like this, there’s no way to blame other sentient beings. First we make our own interpretation of a situation and then apply the label “good” or “bad” to it. We label what appears to us as bad, get angry and then blame other people—it’s illogical; it doesn’t make any sense.

With this reasoning, since everything that appears to us comes from our own mind, we don’t find anything for which to blame others. How things appear to us depends on how we look at them, how we interpret them. We then label them.

Hearing that our friend doesn’t love us any more is not the problem. We hear that our friend doesn’t love us anymore and interpret that as bad, but that’s still not the problem; labeling that situation “bad,” is not the problem. The problem comes when we start to believe in our own label, “This is bad.” That’s when it becomes a problem and makes our life difficult, not before.

You can see that simply labeling a situation “bad” is not the problem. The problem is that after we label we start to believe in our own label. That’s what makes life difficult. Thus you can see how problems like this come from our own mind, are a creation of our own mind.

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Lama Zopa RinpocheLama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche was born in Thami, Nepal in 1945. At the age of tree he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Lawudo Lama. He is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar and meditator who for 30 years has overseen the spiritual activities of the extensive worldwide network of centers, projects and services that form the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) which he founded with Lama Thubten Yeshe.

From How Things Exist: Teachings on Emptiness, by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. Copyright © 2008 by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. Reprinted by arrangement with the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, Boston, Massachusetts. www.lamayeshe.com