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By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
(Archive #394, from

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche explained how delusion and karma bind us to samsara, at the 11th Kopan Course in November 1978. This teaching is an edited excerpt from Session 38, Section Seven of the course.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching in Singapore, 2010. Photo by Thubten Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching in Singapore, 2010. Photo by Thubten Kunsang.

Wherever we are born in any of the six realms—in the lowest, unimaginable suffering state of the narak realm, or in the highest, what’s called the point of samsara—all these realms are completely under the control of delusion and karma. There is not one single realm that is not formed by delusion and karma. This is the pervasive compounding suffering of our aggregates.

These aggregates that are formed and bound by delusion and karma are called the cycle of samsara. As long as we carry the burden of the aggregates bound by delusion and karma, we will circle in these six realms—in the lower realms or the upper realms. It’s as if we have a bare body and we are carrying a big burden of thorns that is tied to us with a rope—without wearing any clothes or gloves—and we are going on a beautiful path to a dirty place with lots of stones and bushes. We are going up and down the mountain, and there is no real happiness until we cut the rope that ties the thorns to us. We have no peace or happiness wherever we go, and we think, “Oh I have much pain, I want happiness.” Even if we go along a beautiful path, or we are on top of a mountain where there is a lot of snow and we come down and go into a beautiful apartment, we are carrying those heavy thorns.

It is like this in the six realms—the three upper realms of the happy transmigratory beings, and the three lower suffering realms—as long as we carry the burden of samsara, there is no way to experience happiness whose nature is not suffering. Delusion and karma are like the rope that ties us to this heavy load of thorns, causing much pain. If we cut this rope, we will find happiness. In order to attain nirvana—the release from samsara—we must break the rope of delusion and karma. This is the way to escape from samsara to nirvana. Read Full Article →