My very dear Erica,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. I checked and it seems that if you ask the judge not to kill the man who is on death row, then it seems possible to change his mind. It comes out very good if you are able to put effort that way. If you do this, you get the merit of saving one human being.
I checked and if you are able to give that man in prison the new small booklet on cherishing others, that Ven. Sarah edited, and also my book on Practicing the Five Powers Near the Time of Death, as well as Liberation in the Palm of your Hand—if you are able to pass these books to that man on death row and see if he is willing to study these, this came out very, very beneficial.
According to my observation what comes out best for you, for purification, is four nyung-näs, but you must do them very well.
I am extremely happy that you have met the Buddha’s teachings and on that basis you are able to purify all your negative karma. This makes your life very easy, so you don’t have to be reborn in the lower realms. You are able to achieve enlightenment for all sentient beings, to free the numberless sentient beings from the six realms—from the oceans of samsaric sufferings, and bring them to full enlightenment.
It’s most amazing how it has turned out. Now you have this incredible opportunity to learn lam-rim teachings, which are the very heart of all Buddha’s teachings, and it is most amazing that you have met tantra. If you haven’t taken a Highest Yoga Tantra initiation, you will have the opportunity to take one in the near future, so this makes it quicker to achieve enlightenment for all sentient beings.
Regarding the four nyung-näs—doing just one nyung-nä is like the sun shining in our life. There is only one sun shining in the world, but it dispels all the darkness. There is one sun that is reflected in every ocean, every puddle, even in a drop of water on a leaf. Doing one nyung-nä is like that in terms of purification; by doing one nyung-nä we don’t have to be reborn in the lower realms in our next life.
Even by reciting one mala of the long Chenrezig mantra we are able to purify 40,000 eons of negative karma, so all this depends on how much compassion we generate to other sentient beings. Strong bodhicitta is what purifies many hundreds of millions of eons of negative karma, if we have realized bodhicitta and emptiness, so to realize bodhicitta as strongly as possible is the best. If you can do four nyung-näs as perfectly as possible, it would be very, very good, so lucky.
Also do at least 20,000 Vajrasattva mantras, but more is very good. This is to purify negative karma. Many students do 100,000 Vajrasattva mantras; this takes three months. Every year we have a group Vajrasattva retreat in Nepal and Dharamsala, so if you can join one when you are able to, that would be very good.
If you can, make 60 Mitukpa tsa-tsas, for purification. Mitukpa is extremely powerful to purify negative karma. This is very important to do if this person is going to be killed.
It is very good to do 100 prostrations every day by reciting the Thirty-five Buddha’s names. There are different commentaries and teachings on how to do prostrations. If you read these, you will know how to do them correctly. If you could do this 100 times every day, that would be so good. Normally people do this very early in the morning, but some people do it before going to bed. Lama Tsongkhapa did the Thirty-five Buddha prostrations 35 times every day. As you prostate, keep reciting the Buddha’s name. Don’t say it once, but repeat it as you prostrate, rather than just saying the name once and then keeping quiet until the next prostration. Keep reciting each name again and again as you do the prostration.
Reciting one name, such as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, just one time, has the power to purify ten hundred million eons of negative karma. Reciting each of the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names has the power to purify so many eons of negative karma. So if we keep repeating the name, can you imagine how many negative karmas get purified? Can you imagine? So many eons of negative karma get purified. You can record the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names in order to memorize them, so if you do that recording, saying the names fast, you can recite more times with each prostration. After doing this practice, when you go to bed you can really think, “I have made my life meaningful.”
Also, before bed do one mala or half a mala of Vajrasattva, or do the long mantra 21 times, with the remedy of the four powers.
Regarding the number of months for the lam-rim meditations, [Note: an outline was sent to the student], that means the topic is your main focus for that time, but the main aim is to have the realizations, so before that, it’s important to be familiar with the whole lam-rim. So, it is important to read lam-rim books such as Liberation in the Palm of your Hand. Then, please go through the cycle of months three full times, and after completing the first cycle, start again from the beginning. Do that three times.
After that, start from whatever realization you didn’t have and keep going through until you have stable realizations.
It is important to do one meditation on guru yoga every day until you get the stable realization that one guru is all the buddhas and one buddha is all the gurus. There is no separation. For the realization to be stable, it doesn’t just last a short time— it is not just for a few hours or a few days, but it is stable, then from this you can have all the realizations up to enlightenment.
In this way, train your mind on lam-rim topics one-by-one, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many years it takes. Go through the lam-rim, first having the realization of renouncing this life and future lives, then bodhicitta and then emptiness. Again, do some meditation on emptiness every day. At the end of the day, it’s important to dedicate the merit created, sealing it with emptiness. This is how to plan your life. The main thing is to realize the lam-rim; to have one or two realizations or as many as you can. In this way, it makes it easier to have the realizations in this life or the next life, as all these meditations leave imprints that will bring you to enlightenment.
Regarding your health, I checked and you need to have the puja called chag-sum done. I will try to do this for you, but it is also very beneficial if you request Geshe Ngawang Drakpa to do it for you as soon as possible.
Also recite the Most Secret Hayagriva mantra. This is ok for you to do even though you may not have the initiation yet. Just visualize the deity in front of you and do not arise as the deity. Visualize the deity above your head and as you recite, nectar descends into you, purifyingyou of all sickness, spirit harm, negative karma and defilements collected since beginningless time. Then recite again, thinking you are purifying all sentient beings. Please recite three malas a day like this.
Thank you very much for all your service at the center , which is for the benefit all sentient beings.
With much love and prayers...