Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive | The Archive of the FPMT

Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book
Health : Addictions and Mental Illness

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at various locations (Last Updated May 28, 2015)


Schizophrenia and Negative Thoughts [Posted: May 2015]
[Date of advice: May 2014]
A student wrote to confess that he had developed an impure perception of Rinpoche. He felt that Rinpoche was trying to harm him, but he realized it was a wrong view due to his schizophrenia, and he was trying to purify all wrong views toward his gurus. He wrote, “This sickness is very bad for my spiritual practice, it has been blocking my will to try and practice a lot. It has a lot of negative energies. My body just doesn't want to cooperate with my thoughts.”

My very dear one,
Thank you very much for your kind email and information. It is huge, the most important thing, that you recognize it is wrong and that the strong thought to purify is arising.

Try to do 400 tsog offerings based on Guru Puja. This might be difficult for you to do, so if it is difficult you can ask the monasteries to do it. This is confession and restoring the samaya vows. It is a very, very strong practice to hook the realizations and to purify degenerate samaya vows. 

Then do the Thirty-five Buddhas practice. This is very powerful, with the remedy of the four opponent powers. What makes confession very powerful is if the four opponent powers are gathered, if they are there. That is what makes it very powerful.

In the life story of Lama Tsongkhapa, he did 700,000 prostrations by reciting the Confession of Downfalls to the Thirty-five Buddhas, then after that the realizations came like rainfall. Just reciting the first Buddha’s name purifies one billion or more eons of negative karma, then so many eons of different negative karma are purified if you recite that only once. Then by doing prostrations to Glorious Flower, if you recite that one time it purifies 100,000 eons of negative karma. It is unbelievable, unbelievable.

This disease you have is spirit harm, it is the result of past karma, having harmed others. The past means past lives—it could be numberless eons ago or a few lifetimes ago; it could be anything. Of course I am not an enlightened being, I am an ordinary sentient being. I am not an arhat, so of course I do have mistakes, but the spirit, the result of your past karma, causes you to think negatively.

A long time ago when I was in Singapore, one family’s son joined our center, ABC, and I gave him a mala. It seemed there was a spirit that had been harming him, telling him all kinds of things, so the spirit pretended to the son’s family that it was me harming the son. They came to the center with their son, and they were very, very strong, pushy. The son came and asked to be free of me and returned the mala. They believed it was me hurting him, but it was the spirit. The spirit can tell lies, many spirits tell lies. They enter in the medium and they tell lies. Western scientists and doctors haven’t discovered this yet, they just call it schizophrenia, but they don’t know really well, so there is a need for protection, mental protection. 

As I heard your letter, this is what I thought to tell you immediately, to help.

With much love and prayers...


Teenage Son with Schizophrenia [posted Dec 2011]
Advice for a student’s 16-year-old son, who is a violent, paranoid schizophrenic, and is a danger to himself and others.

My dear Amanda,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. This is based on your son’s karma. He is getting these experiences because of the karma of having harmed sentient beings in the past, something like that, so he is experiencing this paranoia caused by spirit harms.

It would be good to get a geshe, someone who lives in pure morality and has familiarity with such situations, to do pujas for your son. It depends on how heavy the karma is. Those with less heavy karma can recover. Not everybody recovers, but some do. It would be good to invite Khadro-la or some lamas from India and Nepal to do pujas. Those with bodhicitta and tantric realizations are more powerful in dealing with such problems.

The che-trul puja, Liberating from Harm, Black Magic and So Forth, should be done.

Your son should have a blessing string to wear round his neck.

It also came out very good to have one pill from His Holiness the Dalai Lama to burn again and again every day for a few times. I will check about this pill.

[Rinpoche checked more and said there is a black Manjushri protection that your son needs to wear and also a special pill from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to wear around his neck. A monk is sewing this now, and then we will see how we can send it safely from India.]

It’s also good to advise your son that what is happening—his thoughts of people harming him—is because of a spirit influencing his mind. They are not his own thoughts. They are not at all true, it’s just to harm him. When this karma ripens, this is what happens. He thinks that some person comes and says bad things, but it didn’t happen. It’s good to analyze; good to check. We don’t have to believe what we hear. Your son is possessed by spirit harm; a spirit has occupied his mind. Believing in what the spirit says is sometimes very strong and can even cause people to commit suicide. The spirit says all kinds of things. In Japan, a spirit once told someone to push another person in front of a train. It is all based on past lives. Everything comes from the mind. This applies to problems but it’s also the same with happiness. All the happiness up to enlightenment comes from the mind.

I will pray, and I will see if I can do some pujas. I will also send you some Hayagriva pills from my retreat. Burn a pill in front of your son so that he inhales the smoke.

I will also ask the monks at Nalanda Monastery in France to do the Four Mandala Offerings to Tara puja for your son, as well as druk-chu-ma puja.

With much love and prayer...


Paranoid Schizophrenia [posted Sept 2009]
A student wrote asking for advice regarding her 25-year-old son, who has paranoid schizophrenia.

My dear Christine,
Thank you very much for your kind letter, and I am very sorry for the delay in replying.

It came out beneficial in my observations for you to do Medicine Buddha puja for your son, for his future rebirth and for this life. During the puja, make strong prayers for him to actualize the Three Principal Aspects of the Path and the Two Stages. Make prayers that whenever death comes, that he be reborn in the pure land, where he can be enlightened or achieve a perfect human rebirth and then achieve enlightenment quickly.

Chant the Medicine Buddha mantra so that he can hear it. Also, if you can, recite Maitreya Buddha mantra, Namgyalma mantra, and mantra of Inconceivable Celestial Mansion Very Secret, for actualizing supreme success. Also, chant OM MANI PADME HUM mantra. Don’t just chant the mantras once a day, but two, three, or four times a day. Each time chant them a few times. These mantras have benefits of never ever being reborn in the lower realms.

Then, there is another Buddha’s name that is very good for you to chant:



This is a very powerful mantra, and is the best one to be recited when a person is dying. It should be recited before the sense of hearing ceases and until it ceases. You can also recite it before then, I am just mentioning one of the benefits, but this is for you to recite each day so your son can hear it.

Also, try to get an audio tape or CD of the recitation of the Arya Sanghata Sutra and play it in the house, one, two, or three times, however many times you can, so that it purifies him just by his hearing it. It purifies the heavy negative karmas, the five uninterrupted negative karmas, which cause, without a break, for one to be reborn in the lowest hells, where the duration of the suffering is one intermediate eon. The five uninterrupted negative karmas are: having killed one’s father and mother, causing blood to flow from a Buddha, causing disunity in the Sangha, and killing an Arhat.

So, that is one method: to play the Arya Sanghata Sutra CD or tape. This not only helps and purifies your son and you, but anybody in the house – cats, dogs, anybody who hears it. You can get the CD from the shop at the Dharma center.

Also, if you can, chant the Three Principle Aspects of the Path, the Heart Sutra, the Foundation of All Good Qualities, and any of the short lam-rim prayers that contain the essence of the entire path and leave positive imprints in his mind and in the minds of those that hear them.

If you have holy objects, statues, stupas, and texts (such as lam-rim prayers, the Diamond Cutter Sutra, etc.) you can put them on a table, as many as possible, as well as tsa-tsas, and then take your son around them and let him circumambulate the table with all the holy objects on it. At the same time, chant mantras. If he can manage this, do it two or three times: in the morning after washing and before going to bed. Also, you and anyone else in the house can go around the table, and also the animals.

This is for purification. Then, depending on how many holy objects are on the table, they create that many causes for enlightenment, which means, that many causes for liberation and a good rebirth in the next life.

The other thing is to let him practice kindness, a good heart, tolerance, and contentment every day, in a skilful way. He can be content or rejoice at the good things that happen for others, practice forgiveness, compassion, being kind to others, etc. In this way, you are not just waiting for the next life to help him be a better person, you are able to make your son a good, kind, compassionate, and happier person in this life.

A mother praying for her child and a child praying for its mother is very powerful for success, to bring success. A disciple praying for his or her teacher and a teacher praying for the disciple is also very powerful. It is the same for roommates and people sharing the same household.

So, pray to Medicine Buddha, as I mentioned above, when you do the puja. It is very powerful for success.

Then, I have two protections that I have blessed, which I will mail to you, with some photos of Buddhas and other things that you can put on the table, or put so your son can see them. The protections are for your son to wear, you put them around his neck, but he has to take them off when he showers so they don’t get wet.

It is also very important for you not to think that your son’s sickness has been created by spirits. Spirits are not the creator of his problems or your problems. The creator of the problems is negative actions performed with ignorance, anger, attachment, and the self-cherishing thought. The result of this is problems such as schizophrenia, paranoid delusions, etc. The cause is the negative karma created. The spirit harm is the condition.

If one has not created the cause, then the spirit cannot harm you. If one has created negative karma, then the spirit can harm you. So, then one hallucinates, sees things or hears things, maybe even hears plants talking, or dogs and cats talking, also hears people saying bad things, etc. It is good to recognize that this is the result of one’s own negative karma, and to recognize the hallucination as a hallucination; this is extremely important. When one hears some voices, criticism, or whatever, then you don’t believe it. If you believe it, then it is a problem. Sometimes it can get very bad and makes the person want to commit suicide. The spirit can influence the person so that he or she jumps off a building. An example is thinking a person is talking badly about you. If you are able to check with the person to see if he or she is doing that, ask him or her, and find out that he or she is not actually doing this, then that can help you to see that maybe you cannot believe what your mind is saying. This then becomes a great protection. If you believe and follow what you are hearing, then that can become unbelievably dangerous, can cause harm to yourself, to your family, and other people.

There is one puja called Lu Dang Sadakgi Dondrol. If you are able, ask the geshe to do this. This puja is for protection and to dispel spirit harm.

Also, if you can, recite Most Secret Hayagriva mantra.

I am also mailing you some blessed water from my recent retreat, so you can add this to a big bottle of water and your son can sip a little each day.

I am also making prayers for your son and your whole family.

With much love and prayers...

A student who was diagnosed with schizophrenia described to Rinpoche the hallucinations and voices she heard. She said the spirits often appeared as Rinpoche himself, or as her family members, and then they tried to fool her. She wrote to Rinpoche sincerely asking what was happening and what she could do.

My very dear Linda,
Thank you very much your kind letter. Sorry it took a long time to reply to you. I read your last letter a few times.

Regarding this recent letter, according to my divinations it comes out best for you to practice Lion-face Dakini. If there is an opportunity for you to take the Lion-face Dakini great initiation then you should try to take it, but if not you can still do the practice.

Recite four malas of Lion-face Dakini every day with concentration. Beams emit from the merit field, from Lion-face Dakini, and all the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the 10 directions and absorb into one’s heart, completely illuminating oneself. Beams then emit from the syllables of the mantra at your heart, like the sun rising, and eliminate all sicknesses and spirit harm, as well as the causes, which are negative karma and delusions. At the end of each mala, for the last 21 mantras, think that you receive all the realizations of Lion-face Dakini, as well as the whole merit field. Also, it would be very good for you to take the Most Secret Hayagriva initiation, at least the torma initiation; this is all for your healing.

In Tibetan Buddhism there are so many methods in Sutra and Tantra for this kind of problem. It seems it is 100 per cent clear from your own experience that this is spirit harm. There is very little education in or understanding of spirit harm in Western society. This learning has not yet been discovered and it has not become a subject of knowledge in Western psychology. Western psychology and psychiatry need to develop this and there is a long way to go, even to understand gross things about it.

In Buddhism, one small puja or a mantra can stop it, but with Western methods probably your whole life you will not be helped by psychology or psychiatry, or they suggest you take a lot of medicines and then there are side effects. Maybe the medicines just calm it down, like drinking alcohol or drugs for a time and not activating the mind. But one suffers all these side effects.

Also, you should wear the protection of the  White Umbrella deity together with So So Dharma protection. You can ask the geshe at your Dharma center for these.

Please request the geshe to come to your house to read from the Sung du a text called Yang Pai Drong-Khyer Du jug pai zung. It is one or two pages, not many, so he should read it 20 times at your house. Then request the geshe to recite the mantra called Destroying the mara, which is at the end of the Lam-rim Chen-mo text, the very last page. He should recite that seven times.

This is what should be done. If possible the geshe can do these two recitations at your house from time to time until your problem is completely better, maybe once or twice a month.

If possible you need a wrathful fire puja, peaceful fire puja, and increasing fire puja done for you. The most important are the increasing fire puja and the wrathful fire puja. These two came out in my divinations as very important. If possible it is best for them to be done at your house, but that may be difficult if your house doesn’t have space or due to local regulations. If they can’t be done at your house then the fire pujas can be done elsewhere. The wrathful fire puja could be done at Kopan Monastery. You can discuss this with the geshe or he can try to do them for you.

The other thing you need to have done is Ma Mer Thruk Kong puja. Maybe this puja can be done by the monasteries in South India or you can ask the Nepal Gelugpa monastery at Bouda (Kyidong Samden Ling). You can ask the abbott to do the puja. You have to make offerings or they can send you a bill. The geshe can help you organize all of this.

There is also a practice for chasing away spirits, so I will send that practice to the geshe to do for you. Also, the geshe should come to your house and do Yamantaka meditation to bless the house and protect the place.

You and any other people at your house should recite the Heart Sutra.

Basically the problems come from your mind. According to basic Buddhist philosophy, enlightenment and hell come from your mind. How does it come from your mind? One thing is past karma, having harmed sentient beings in the past or performed non-virtuous actions, either something done in relation to the gurus or holy objects.

Delusion and karma are the main causes. Karma motivates delusion, and the root is ignorance, not knowing the ultimate nature of the “I” and aggregates, and is also connected with the self-cherishing thought—wrong things done in the past, negative karma, performed with the self-cherishing thought, and also things performed in this life with the self-cherishing thought, which is a mistaken action.

Now you can generate compassion toward those spirits, they are also your mother sentient being. If you can remember the subject—that they have been your mother countless times and countless times gave you your body, protected your life from many hundreds of dangers each day, gave you education, and bore so many hardships for your well being. They have suffered so much for you so many times. Meditate on these things and then generate the wish to repay their kindness. You have met the Buddhadharma, received a precious human body, and met the virtuous friend. You have such an incredible opportunity to achieve liberation and enlightenment and they don’t have this. They are suffering so much; they are under the power of ignorance and the three poisonous minds, under the power of karma, have no opportunity to practice Dharma, and are experiencing so much suffering.

Generate loving kindness toward them. All they want is happiness, but they are ignorant and create the causes for more and more suffering. Think that you want to cause them happiness and bring them to higher rebirths, liberation, and enlightenment; free them from all sufferings and their causes. Think that they want to be free from suffering but they are ignorant, then think that you will free them from all the sufferings and their causes. Then generate the special attitude that you will do this by yourself alone and generate bodhicitta, thinking, “Therefore I have to achieve enlightenment not only for them but for all sentient beings.”

Sometimes generate bodhicitta with them by exchanging yourself for others and practicing equalizing meditation. Think how all suffering comes from the self-cherishing thought and how you receive all your past, present, and future happiness, liberation, and even enlightenment from them. Use them to develop bodhicitta and compassion. You can read some part of the teachings to the spirits, as well as recite the Heart Sutra, chant mantras for them, and, especially, you can read or give bodhicitta teachings to them and sometimes teachings on emptiness. Sometimes you can visualize the spirits as deities.

There are some hallucinations that are due to when a person has a fever or due to medicines, drugs, etc., like the effect of LSD. The hallucination is not to do with spirits but due to the power of the substances. This is similar to your situation, which is what many people in the West call schizophrenia or a crazy mind. However, this is connected with spirit harm, and when your luck or fortune is down, due to some non-virtuous action that one has done, then the spirit finds a way to harm you. So, it comes together like this, all based on past karma, then based in delusion. This is according to reality and this is what the Buddhist teachings say.

So, first try these things. That’s all for now, I will send the text to the geshe. If you can’t get the protections, let me know and I can send them as well.

With much love and prayers...


Spirit Harm
A student wrote to Rinpoche about his wife, who suffered from schizophrenia, sudden mood changes, and other problems. Rinpoche gave the following advice.

My very dear Charlie,
Thank you for your kind letter. I have checked regarding your wife and there are some protections that she needs to wear. If you give me your postal address I will send these to her.

There is one puja that needs to be done for her by a geshe or good Tibetan lama. I do not know if there are any geshes or lamas near where you live, but maybe you can check. If there is a geshe or good lama available, you need to request for the puja called Gagu to be performed. Your wife needs to be present at this puja.

Then, according to my observations, she needs to do Medicine Buddha practice. This would be extremely good for her to do. It is very powerful purification, brings all success, and enables all her wishes to be fulfilled.

It is important to perform the practice with a good heart, with the wish to free all sentient beings from all sufferings and bring them to enlightenment, including oneself. For these reasons you recite the mantra and perform the practice of Medicine Buddha. Practice it not only to heal your own sickness but also for all sentient beings’ sicknesses, as well as to stop wars, famines, disease, torture, dangers from the elements (fire, earth, wind, and water), as well as all the sufferings of all sentient beings, not only the ones in this world.

I will also dedicate the Sur (offering smell to the pretas) practice that I do each night to your wife.

There is another practice that she should do called Lion-face Dakini. The important part of this practice is for her to recite the mantra and the praise.

Also, it would be very beneficial for her to recite the mig-me mantra; this is Lama Tsongkhapa’s mantra. This would be very good as a daily practice, to receive blessings from the guru to achieve realizations, complete all the qualities, attain enlightenment, and be able to liberate sentient beings from all samsaric sufferings and bring them to enlightenment.

With much love and prayers...

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