My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you for your kind letter. I’m sorry it took many eons to reply.
I want to tell you about one monk’s situation. He had a number of heart attacks and much pain, so he decided to follow the advice of two scientists. [See: The China Study, by T. Collen Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell, and The Starch Solution, by John A. McDougall.] This monk became vegan and stopped oil on top of that, and he totally recovered after following these scientists’ advice. This is information that I think may be very helpful for you. I asked him to give a talk to the monks at Sera Monastery, then if it went well to also go to Ganden and Drepung. There are quite a few thousand monks there, and many have high blood pressure and heart problems. The monk had heart problems and completely recovered by following that treatment, so that is one thing for you to try. It can be advice to help other people also.
Regarding your high blood pressure, there is one very old student from Switzerland who came to Nepal a few years ago. He had very high blood pressure even before he came to Nepal, but in Nepal it increased, so he asked me what to do as it was very, very high.
I told him to do tonglen and every time he did tonglen his blood pressure definitely went down. For him this was proof, because it definitely went down after half an hour of doing tonglen.
From this you can understand the importance of tonglen. Also, there are no side effects from tonglen—so many medicines have side effects, but with tonglen there are none. For example, even if you die with tonglen, you will never get reborn in the lower realms. Tonglen causes bodhicitta and causes you to be born in the pure land of the Buddha.
Kadampa Geshe Chekawa had been praying every day to be born in the hells, to suffer for the sake of other sentient beings. He was sincerely praying very much for that to happen. But what happened was that when it was time for him die, instead of being reborn in hell he had the appearance of the pure land. When this happened, he told his attendant that he didn’t succeed in his prayers, as he sincerely wanted to be born in hell and suffer for sentient beings, but then at the deathtime he had the appearance of the pure land. So that happened to him, and that was the result of tonglen.
Also, there is another student whose wife suddenly died, even though she was very young. After that I told him to become monk. Recently he met someone who had cancer and he advised the person to do tonglen and that person completely recovered from cancer. So, these things you have to know. These are factual stories.
My advice for you is tonglen. This is the best, this is very good, incredible. [You can find more advice about tonglen practice here.] Tonglen is for yourself and also you can explain it to other people. Of course, you have to know the lamrim first, then on the basis of lamrim you can see the purpose of doing tonglen and you will want to do it. Otherwise it is difficult, unless you already have a good heart.
When we take on the suffering of even one sentient being or somebody who is very sick, we should take on the whole entire suffering and cause of suffering, not only the sickness, so that brings us to enlightenment. Of course there are numberless sentient beings in the six realms—numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings—so we take all their sufferings and causes. It’s amazing, amazing. That makes it even faster to achieve enlightenment.
The self-cherishing thought is the main obstacle to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. So to serve the sentient beings, by taking others’ suffering on our heart and giving it to the self-cherishing thought, the great demon, the self-cherishing thought, that is totally against the self-cherishing thought. That is so good, the best, most pure Dharma practice, bodhicitta practice.
Next, we give our body, next we give our enjoyments, next we give our three-time merits, the cause of all the happiness up to enlightenment. Even giving to one sentient being—when we give our body, when we make charity of that—or give even our hat or our jacket, making charity, dedicating with the thought of giving, what we renounce is attachment. We should give sincerely, not politically, not to get something in return, which is not really giving. If we do it properly like that, it brings us to enlightenment more quickly.
The Buddha said:
Any sentient being who, during the period of my teachings
Makes charity well (even if the material is the size of a hair),
For 80,000 eons will experience the great result of great enjoyment:
No pain, no disease, and enjoyment of happiness.
Like that, one will be enriched with all the desirable things.
At the end, you can actually achieve the result: the peerless cessation and completion (enlightenment).
It is incredible, incredible, and it brings us to enlightenment. Now here we are giving to numberless sentient beings in each realm—wow, wow, wow—and we are getting so much closer to enlightenment. By giving our past, present and future merits, this is the cause of all the happiness, so it is incredible. This is the best practice for us ordinary beings. That itself is the biggest puja.
In regard to giving away, we have so much attachment, miserliness. Giving away to sentient beings is so good, especially if it is done with bodhicitta. When we take the suffering [of others], that is totally against the self-cherishing thought, which is the worst enemy of bodhicitta, so we totally destroy the self-cherishing thought.
I think the more you read the section on the kindness of sentient beings, [you will understand] how all our past, present and future happiness is received from every hell being, every hungry ghost, every animal, every human being, every sura and asura and every intermediate state being. It is so important to know, to meditate on that, knowing that other sentient beings are most kind, most precious, most dear for us. Everyone is wish-fulfilling for us.
Also remember that we receive all our happiness from every sentient being. We receive all our past, present and future happiness from every sentient being. They have all been our mother and kind, so to really understand that we need to read about that in the lamrim and really meditate on that.
Of course, we also need to understand how samsara is in the nature of suffering, and before that we need renunciation, and then bodhicitta, so we need to have more understanding of that, basically from the perfect human rebirth, the graduated path of the lower capable being.
Please read Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. That will help you very much, so you will be able to do tonglen effectively.
Even when death is happening, as I mentioned about Kadampa Geshe Chekawa, it is better to go to the pure land than to live in the suffering world. Going to the pure land is, of course, for the benefit of sentient beings.
I checked and you need one puja done. It is called she nyin dü dog. It comes out best for the Kopan Lama Gyupas to do this. If you email Kopan to arrange the puja, they will let you know the costs, etc.
Even when the puja happens, remember it is for you to get better so you can practice Dharma for sentient beings, so you can work for sentient beings, so you can do the actions of body, speech and mind for sentient beings.
So please try like this and live your life, every moment, day and night and in every action, with the thought of bodhicitta. This is the best life.
With much love and prayers ...