My most dear, most precious, most kind wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you for your email. Please read and study and keep the five powers. This is a very, very important practice, for you and for everyone. I wrote this for one student who was close to passing in Hong Kong. [See the FPMT booklet Practicing the Five Powers Near the Time of Death] It was written mainly for the student’s preparation, but actually I wrote it to help anybody who is going to die. This booklet is how to prepare for that. It is a very good thing to know, not only for people who are close to dying or who have cancer, but just generally for everyone. It gives instructions on how to prepare and how to make the death positive instead of being scared of it.
I checked and there are some things you should do. It is good to try to do these quite quickly:
- Liberate three animals that are going to be killed, so you are saving them from the danger of death. This is for your long life. Not only liberate them but also do the practice I put together.
- Long Life Sutra: to be read 4,000 times. It comes out for Tsawa Khangtsen at Sera Je Monastery to do this.
- White Tara long-life meditation (the short one): Recite the mantra 60,000 times and do the long-life meditation. Try to start this as soon as possible.
- Amitayus Long Life Sutra: to be printed 5,000 times. This means printing it in English or Tibetan and then it can be given to people or put inside a stupa, etc.
Meditation on tonglen came out as most beneficial.
It also comes out very good for you to:
- Recite and do the practice of Vajra Armor
- Recite the mantra of Most Secret Hayagriva
- Take the initiation of Black Garuda and then do the practice
- Take Vajrakilaya powder every day, whatever you can get between two fingers. You should, take it several times in the morning, afternoon and evening.
- She nyin dü dog puja: to be done by Osel Labrang. This puja should be done quickly. The offering that is made during the puja is for the torma, offering to monks, etc.
How to think about the cancer: This disease, how heavy or light, very much depends on the mind, whether your way of thinking is positive or negative. As it is mentioned in Lama Chöpa [LC96]:
Even if the environment and beings are filled with the fruits of negative karma,
And unwished for sufferings pour down like rain,
I seek your blessings to take these miserable conditions as a path
By seeing them as causes to exhaust the results of my negative karma.
That means utilizing the cancer, instead of thinking “bad, bad, bad,” and making it scary. Instead think it’s extremely positive and think of the cancer as most precious. You have to utilize cancer on the path to enlightenment—that means to achieve full enlightenment, the cessation of all obscurations and the completion of all the realizations, the omniscient mind. That means the cancer is used to free the numberless sentient beings, numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to the omniscient mind, full enlightenment.
So the cancer is used for that. The cancer is used to develop bodhicitta and emptiness, and the result is to benefit sentient beings. With that method you can achieve enlightenment and the result, ultimate happiness, the peerless happiness.
When you do tonglen, you use cancer on the path to enlightenment by taking other sentient beings’ sufferings—all the sufferings and delusions and obscurations of all sentient beings, all their karma. You take all this on your ego, the self-cherishing thought, also on the ignorance, the root of samsara, where the oceans of suffering come from; the ignorance holding the I as real, as truly existent. So you take it all, as well as the resultant suffering, all the unfavorable conditions, the place (the environment) and the cause of the karma; you take it and destroy these two concepts, self-cherishing and ignorance.
By destroying the self-cherishing thought, you generate bodhicitta. The purpose of destroying the self-cherishing thought is to actualize bodhicitta and by destroying ignorance you actualize emptiness. When you take the suffering of numberless sentient beings in each realm into your heart and also all the obscurations and delusions, all the negative karma, it becomes unbelievable purification for you, for your obscurations and negative karma collected from beginningless rebirths, and the cause of your cancer is purified by the way. It is so powerful; it is unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, great, great, great purification. You collect skies of merit, more than skies of merit. So this is how your cancer benefits. In this way the cancer becomes a quick way to achieve enlightenment and a quick way to enlighten numberless sentient beings from each realm and bring them to full enlightenment.
When doing the practice of giving all your past, present and future merits to numberless sentient beings in each of the seven realms, you collect skies of numberless merits. Like that you collect numberless merits and then when you give the resultant good karma, all the merits, all the temporary happiness in samsara to the numberless sentient beings in each realm, you collect so many times numberless merits.
Then you give nirvana to each of the numberless sentient beings in each realm and again you collect so many times numberless merits. Then you give your full enlightenment to the numberless sentient beings in each realm, and you collect so many numberless merits.
Then you give your body—not this body, but you think this body becomes a wish-fulfilling jewel—to the numberless sentient beings in each realm and again you collect so many numberless merits.
After that you give all your belongings, the surrounding people, parents, anybody who is helping you, your friends, to the numberless sentient beings in each realm, and you collect so many times numberless merits, unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable merits, wow, wow, wow. This becomes a quick way to actualize bodhicitta and a quick way to be free from samsara and a quick way to achieve enlightenment.
Geshe Lama Konchog, who was one of the geshe teachers at Kopan, who brought a lot of benefit, fell down so heavily one day. It was during the rainy season; he fell on the cement floor, but he immediately felt unbelievably happy, because he thought that all my life obstacles were received on him. So he felt very happy, unbelievably happy.
Practitioners become happiest if something like this happens. We ordinary people feel it is so terrible when that happens, but practitioners see it as positive.
My teacher, Geshe Jampa Wangdu, was a great meditator who achieved guru devotion, renunciation, bodhicitta, right view and tantric stages. When he went for the His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings, a thief came to his hut. The only thing that the thief found was his watch, which was on the table, so he took the watch. When Geshe Jampa Wangdu came back and found out the watch was stolen, he was so happy that the thief took his watch.
For practitioners, if they get cancer, their mind is so happy, most unbelievable happy. They know they can experience the cancer of all the sentient beings, and not only that, even the suffering of sentient beings, to free all the sentient beings from all the sufferings. With this cancer they are able to free sentient beings from cancer and this brings them unbelievable happiness. They are most happy, most happy. It is the happiest thing.
Here are some things for you to think. [Having cancer is the] happiest thing. It makes your life most meaningful, most beneficial for the numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings, for everyone, no one is left out. In this way your life is most beneficial for all sentient beings, so this means for you also. Your cancer is like a jewel, more precious than a wish-granting jewel. This is the real wish-granting jewel. You should think like this—that it is the most positive thing, fulfilling all your wishes.
Another example is Asanga, who did retreat for a total of twelve years, trying to achieve Maitreya Buddha. He did some years of retreat but nothing happened. He didn’t see Maitreya Buddha so he gave up and left the retreat, then as he left he saw someone cutting a rock with a thread, rubbing the thread on the rock and in this way slowly cutting it, little by little. Asanga was inspired that even a thread could cut a rock, so he went back into retreat and did another three years’ retreat.
Again he left the retreat because nothing was happening and as he left he saw a bird flying in and out of a hole in the rock to its nest. As the bird flew into the nest its wing touched the rock and slowly over time it had worn out the rock, so Asanga got inspired and thought, “Why then can’t I achieve Maitreya Buddha?” Then he decided to go back into retreat to achieve Maitreya Buddha.
After some years, again he gave up and left the retreat. As he left, he saw a drop of water coming from the ceiling of a cave and it had made a hole in the ground, just by the drops slowly falling over so many years. Again he got inspired and went back into retreat.
So for twelve years Asanga was in retreat but he didn’t see Maitreya Buddha, and again he gave up and left. When he went outside he saw a wounded dog on the road. The lower part of the dog was covered in maggots and the upper part of the dog was very aggressive, so with unbelievable, most unbelievable compassion, Asanga bent down and went to pick up the maggots with his tongue, so as not to hurt the maggots. First he cut flesh from his shin so that he could then spread the maggots on the flesh. As he bent down with his tongue out, he kept stretching down but he still hadn’t touched the dog, so he opened his eyes and instead of the dog he saw Maitreya Buddha. Then he suddenly grabbed Maitreya Buddha and said, “Why didn’t you come before, when I was doing retreat?” Maitreya Buddha said, “I was always with you in the cave, but you didn’t see me, in fact you kept spitting on me.” Then Maitreya Buddha showed Asanga where the spit was on his robes.
This tells me that normally when we are doing retreat, the deity is always inside the room, always with us, but we don’t see it because our mind is so obscured, foggy, just as we can’t see any cars on the road when it’s very foggy. Our mind becomes like that. Just because we don’t see the deity, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It is totally wrong to think that.
Maitreya Buddha asked Asanga, “What do you want?” Asanga replied that he wanted teachings, so Maitreya Buddha took Asanga to Tushita—not the Tushita god realm, but Tushita pure land, which is above the god realm. This is just like a city and a monastery, so the monastery is some distance from the city, and like that, Tushita pure land is above the Tushita god realm.
Fifty years (in human life) passed, but in Tushita pure land it was just one morning, and Maitreya Buddha gave teachings on the five scriptures (Abhisamayalamkara, Mahayanasutralankara, Madhyantavibhaga, Dharmadharmatavibhaga and Uttaratantra Shastra.) Then Asanga returned to the human realm and wrote the five commentaries and so on. Since that time the teachings have prevailed in the world and so many numberless sentient beings have achieved the path, becoming arhats, bodhisattvas and buddhas, right up to now, and sentient beings are still actualizing the path by integrating [those teachings] into the lamrim.
All those benefits, the incredible, incredible benefits, all the skies of benefits to numberless sentient beings—wow, wow, wow—all that came from Maitreya Buddha’s teachings and that came from Asanga’s compassion. So you can see from one person’s compassion what happened—numberless sentient beings achieved enlightenment and are still achieving enlightenment. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. That should be related to you, so you should understand the benefits that you get. By generating compassion to that sentient being, that is the way to achieve enlightenment. From Maitreya generating compassion for that wounded dog, then numberless sentient beings have achieved enlightenment.
In the same way, when his negative karma was not purified Asanga didn’t see Maitreya Buddha, even though Maitreya Buddha was always in the cave with him, but when he saw the wounded dog and generated compassion, his negative karma was purified and then he saw Maitreya Buddha.
So please think about these benefits and experience the suffering for others.
With much love and prayers ...