Compassion Brings Us Closer to Enlightenment

Compassion Brings Us Closer to Enlightenment

Date of Advice:
December 2015
Date Posted:
July 2016

A student had dedicated her life to others, caring for animals in desperate need and also doing healing work with people for many years. She had previously written to Rinpoche about a lump in her breast, however, after he performed a puja, the lump had disappeared. Many years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and asked Rinpoche for advice. Rinpoche responded with extensive advice and suggestions on how to care for animals in the ultimate way.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
I checked regarding your breast cancer and there are some practices and pujas I need to do for you. They are:

  • Gektor [Offering to harmful spirits]
  • Burning Pinnacle: to be recited seven times
  • Tashi Tsegpa: to be recited five times

I will do these, as well as other prayers. I have also asked the Sangha at my place to do prayers and dedications for you.

Definitely this is purifying your karma because you did a lot of practice and dedicated your life for sentient beings, to free them from the oceans of suffering and bring them to happiness. You did this not only for all the animals, but also for all the people, so this is very good what is happening to you. You should rejoice, and I will do these pujas for you.

I want to tell you this from my heart to your heart. What you are experiencing now makes you purify quickly any heavy negative karma from beginningless rebirth. That is now experienced in this life in the form of cancer. Rather than suffering in the lower realms for eons, where you can’t help others or yourself, instead, in this life now, not only can you help yourself, but also, as you have been, you can help so many other people and even animals. You can help so many other sentient beings, it is fantastic. So you should rejoice all the time.

First understand that all your happiness from beginningless rebirth up to now, every single happiness that you experience at present and all the numberless happiness that you will experience in future lives, including liberation from samsara, ultimate happiness, buddhahood—the total elimination of all the obscurations and completion of all the realizations—you received all this from every sentient being. This happiness is received from every hell being, every hungry ghost, every insect, that means from every maggot, spider, tick, every fish in the ocean, those as large as a mountain and those that are so small you can see them only with a microscope, those that even look like bubbles, so all the sentient beings in the ocean, all those living on the ground, for example when you walk on the grass many tiny insects escape away, and those in the trees and bushes, all the sentient beings in the sky, numberless human beings, numberless asuras, numberless suras and numberless intermediate state beings, so you received this happiness from everybody. That means all sentient beings are most precious, most kind. They are your most dear, wish-fulfilling ones, including every sentient being, not only dogs and cats but even the ones you don’t like, in case there is something such as insects that you don’t like.

The Buddha has completed all the qualities, but in terms of kindness, sentient beings are the most kind, even kinder than Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. By relying on Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and praying to them, you can become free from the lower realms, you can purify your negative karma and you can receive all the happiness of all the future rebirths—deva, human and pure land rebirths. By taking refuge in them you achieve ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, from the oceans of samsara sufferings. By taking refuge in them you can be free from the oceans of subtle negative imprints and obscurations, from the four unknowing minds. You can become free from lower nirvana and you can achieve full enlightenment. But where do Buddha, Dharma and Sangha come from? They come from sentient beings, so you see sentient beings are unbelievably precious, most kind.

In the Bodhicaryavatara, Shantideva says: “As you respect the Buddha, so you should respect sentient beings. Why not?”

I explained the reasons why all the happiness that you receive comes from the kindness of sentient beings, however, all the happiness comes from your virtuous mind, which is the holy action of the Buddha. Buddha’s holy action is possessed by his own mind. It is one within us sentient beings, so that means the Buddha’s holy action came from the Buddha. Buddha came from bodhisattvas; bodhisattvas came bodhicitta; bodhicitta came from great compassion; and great compassion came from the suffering sentient beings who are existing. Without obscured suffering sentient beings there is no compassion arising, then there is no bodhicitta. That means there are no bodhisattvas; that means there are no buddhas; that means there are no buddhas’ holy actions; that means there is no past, present and future happiness, including enlightenment. That means these don’t exist, because there is no evolution.

Even now the subtle happiness that you experience—like when you are feeling  hot, then the cool air passes through your hair so you feel cool—even that experience you received from sentient beings who are obscured. You received all this from the kindness of suffering sentient beings. Even the happiness in a dream you received due to the kindness of sentient beings.

For example, the mother who loves her child and thinks her child is the most important, precious one. She cares for her child even more than her own life. In regards to existence, if she had the choice she would give up her own life to protect her child’s life. Even animals do this. If somebody complains a little bit about the child or gives a little harm it makes the mother very upset, whereas if somebody praises the child a little or gives a small present to the child it makes the mother very happy.

Just like that, this is how bodhicitta is. The Buddha has compassion and loves us 100,000 times more than we love ourselves. Bodhisattvas generate bodhicitta, totally renouncing cherishing the I and only cherishing others who are numberless, cherishing them like wish-granting jewels. Every sentient being is cherished by each bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas have purified negative karma, purified the path and collected extensive merits. Each breath in and out is only done for each sentient being, therefore bodhisattvas collect more than skies of merits. Here I am using this just as an example. Then they actualize the Mahayana path, actualizing all the realizations for all the sentient beings. This is how they achieve full enlightenment; it is only for sentient beings, the numberless sentient beings.

Even a small harm that is done to sentient beings is actually harming the numberless bodhisattvas, it is displeasing to the bodhisattvas, the numberless bodhisattvas, and every small pleasure, every small help done for sentient beings is a great offering to the bodhisattvas, the numberless bodhisattvas. It makes them happiest.

In the same way, any small harm done is like harming the numberless buddhas and any small pleasure or small help offered to sentient beings is the greatest offering to the numberless buddhas. It is said that for the Buddha, between himself and sentient beings, the experience of happiness and suffering is the same.

For example, someone makes extensive offerings, extensive flower offerings to numberless buddhas, to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, Tara, Manjushri and all the numberless buddhas, but toward sentient beings they lie, cheat and kill. They do all those bad things. Nowadays we have a very good example of extremists, of what they are doing toward sentient beings. They are killing people and acting real bad toward sentient beings, but they prostrate morning, afternoon and evening to their god. If we act like that, Buddha is not happy at all.

Even if we don’t make any offering to the Buddha, but we really show respect, care and concern toward sentient beings—including insects not only people—then every small happiness that we cause makes the best offering, the happiest offering to all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, to numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas, not just one or two.

Buddha also said that to benefit sentient beings he will not only abide in dharmakaya manifestations, but also in rupakaya, the holy form body, and in sambhogakaya aspect, as well as in normal aspect. For higher beings the Buddha appears in nirmanakaya aspect, while for ordinary sentient beings who have an impure mind he manifests in impure form, so all kinds of aspects. For devas he manifests as a deva, for suras he manifests as a sura, for asuras he manifest as an asura, for human beings he manifests in human aspect, ordinary aspect. For hell beings he manifests as a hell guide and so forth, for preta beings he shows the aspect of being a preta, and for animals he shows the aspect of being an animal, so there are all kinds of aspects to guide sentient beings.

Of course we see the Buddha many times but we don’t recognize that he is guiding us. Our impure mind is so strong with impure appearance that we don’t even recognize the Buddha from his own side. We don’t recognize that the Buddha is helping us, we don’t recognize that, not only in this life, but from beginningless lives, including this life and also future lives.

Remember this when you are taking care of the dogs and cats, the pitiful beings, and also including the people, when you are taking care of them. Please remember this and do the service with this awareness, with this care. This is the most important, pure Dharma. Generating compassion for even one sentient being brings you closer to enlightenment. It brings you to enlightenment much faster as you are serving sentient beings.

It is said in the Bodhicaryavatara that merely thinking to benefit others is better than offering to the buddhas. It is more special than offering to all the buddhas. Therefore actually attempting to work for sentient beings, no question, no need to say, the benefits are much more than offering to the buddhas.

That means making offerings like cities, like clouds in the sky, offerings filling the whole sky, so offering all this to the buddhas, or generating the thought to benefit sentient beings.

Even just by generating the thought to benefit sentient beings you collect far more merit than offering to the buddhas. It is very special and creates a lot of good karma. This isn’t talking about only helping sentient beings. Even generating the thought to benefit others is more special than making offerings to numberless buddhas.

Generating more compassion for others and serving others is what makes us free from the oceans of samsaric sufferings more quickly, thus we will achieve the peerless happiness—the total cessation of obscurations and the completion of all realizations—more quickly for sentient beings. Therefore, please rejoice in your whole life, as this is what you have been doing. Rejoice in this life and especially at the death time rejoice in your life. Especially think this at the death time.

That’s the most important thing, to be free from the oceans of samsaric sufferings for yourself and to achieve enlightenment for all sentient beings. This is most important, whether you are free from breast cancer or not, that is just nothing. Free or not free, that is nothing.

I wanted to ask you, do other people help you to help those animals or is it just you and your own money? How do you manage financially to help the animals?

I have some things to suggest to you on how to help the animals ultimately. It's OK to help their bodies, but it’s more important to help their mind. The body disintegrates but the mind continues. It is without beginning, from beginningless rebirth up to now, and again it continues from life to life, endlessly in samsara, if we do not meet Dharma, if we don’t get to actualize the true path, the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness. If we don’t cease the cause of suffering, we will have to endlessly suffer in samsara, which is much more terrifying.

There’s a story about an eighty-year-old man. After he entered into the Mahayana path, when the time ripened he became enlightened and did perfect works for sentient beings, bringing them to enlightenment. That means all the perfect works—enlightening all the sentient beings—came from being enlightened himself, and that came from having entered into the Mahayana path. Before that he was an arhat actualizing the path to liberation, which started with being a monk. He was able to be a monk because inconceivable eons ago he was a fly following some cow dung around a stupa, so it became circumambulation, one circumambulation. All these benefits—being an arhat, becoming enlightened and enlightening all sentient beings—all these depended on the small merit created by following the smell of cow dung around a stupa, which became a circumambulation.

From this example you can see how holy objects such as stupas are so powerful, therefore this is one way you can really help animals. In India we have one project called Maitri Charitable Trust. In the past it was mainly focused on treating leprosy but that part was given back to the government to run, so now there are schools, as well as treatment for TB and different sicknesses, and also many treatments and care for dogs.

I advised building eight stupas so that the dogs and also people can go around them and in that way they can purify the heavy negative karma collected since beginningless rebirths, which is the cause of all the suffering, and they can collect extensive merits.

The last time I went to Maitri I also put a special mantra on every animal’s body, also on people’s heads. This mantra purifies many eons of negative karma. Now at Maitri there are almost one hundred dogs, not only the ones being taken care of but also dogs from outside, so some dogs got the blessing twice. I ended up going twice as some more animals came after the first blessing, so I went back to bless the new dogs and then again I blessed the ones that were already there. They also play the Arya Sanghata Sutra through a loudspeaker so that all the animals and dogs who are sick can hear it. This plants the seed of enlightenment.

At Root Institute in Bodhgaya we also have animals that have been liberated (saved from death) such as goats and cows. We built a large stupa for them to circumambulate, also I went there to put the mantra on their body. I don’t know how many animals are there now, however, last year we had about fifty. We had finished building a house for the people looking after animals and we also finished the stupa for the animals to go around, but I didn’t get to check it recently as the road was not so good. I hope all the animals are going around the stupa three times a day—that was the idea, my plan, in order to purify their negative karma collected from beginningless rebirth, so that they can be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and achieve enlightenment.

In Singapore they made a small recording that plays Buddha Namgyalma mantra, which is unbelievably powerful for long life and to purify obscurations. Whoever hears the mantra, even animals, will never get reborn in the lower realms and also their life goes toward enlightenment, they never go down [to the lower realms] and they will always have buddhas and bodhisattvas around them. This is even just by hearing the Namgyalma mantra, but also especially if it is recited. In Singapore the students made a recording of my chanting and there might be some other mantras included at the end.

Other powerful mantras are:

  • Medicine Buddha mantra: just by reciting or hearing this mantra one doesn’t get reborn in the lower realms.
  • Maitreya Buddha mantra: it is very powerful for animals to hear this mantra because they never get reborn in the lower realms, as animals.
  • Lotus Pinnacle of Amoghapasha mantra: OM PÄDMO USHNISHA VIMALE HUM PHAT. This is very powerful to not be reborn in the lower realms. Even a fully ordained monk who has broken the four root vows, who received the four defeats of: sexual intercourse, stealing what was not given (valid things), killing a human being and telling lies that he has realizations when he doesn’t, so that others believe him and that changes their motivation. Having broken these four root vows causes that person to be reborn in the hell realms, but by reciting this mantra and by remembering the name of the person, that person’s heavy negative karma gets purified and he will receive a high rebirth. There are also many other benefits. The small recording made in Singapore has some of these mantras on it and it is to be played so that animals can hear the mantras.

I will send you one of these recordings so you can play it for the dogs and cats. If you can, play it in three sessions a day—in the morning, noon and evening time. It is very important as it purifies their mind and saves them from the lower realms and they can achieve enlightenment. It is so, so simple.

Also if at all possible you can build a stupa. It could be large, but that might be hard. If you cannot build it because it costs too much, then you can build a number of smaller stupas that could be in a circle or collection so the animals can go around them.

I have a new plan in south India. I didn’t see many shops but in one place I saw many chickens in very small cages. As soon as I saw them I wanted to buy them, but at present we have no place for them at Sera Je Monastery. Also if they were just loose on the ground they would eat worms and insects. They are not like goats who are vegetarian, so for an animal being vegetarian makes a huge difference.

I did think that at the land we have for the Maitreya Project we could build a large area for many chickens to live, but it would have a cement floor. Then we could buy those chickens in the small cages that were to be killed and liberate them there and we could give them food like grains, so they wouldn’t have to eat worms.

In south India I thought to buy some land and build a house with a cement floor and walls and roof, and have many large Namgyalma mantras on the ceiling. Any house that has Namgyalma mantras on the ceiling then anyone who enters and goes underneath the mantras will always get purified and also if they die inside, under the mantras, they will never be reborn in the lower realms, they will have a higher rebirth.

The other mantras to have are large size mantras of Stainless Lotus Pinnacle which can cover the ceiling inside. Just by being under this mantra, the chickens purify one thousand eons of negative karma each time they go under it. This is the same mantra that we usually put above doorways, so each time we come and go, even the mosquitoes, we all purify one thousand eons of negative karma, so it is unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable!

In addition I wanted to play the mantras I mentioned before. I wanted to play the recording so the chickens can hear the mantras and also to play it three times a day: morning, noon and evening time. In three sessions this plants the seed of enlightenment. When feeding them grain, if possible, first recite mantras and then blow on the grains to bless them. This purifies the chickens’ negative karma, and it not only helps them, but also their purpose in being alive is so they can purify their minds from negative karma. This is so important.

This is just some news to inform you of the different ways we try to help animals.

In Singapore, at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, the FPMT center, they have liberated more than 200 million lives and maybe even more now, maybe about 300 million lives. They did this for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and also for my long life. They liberated big fish by first taking them around the center, which has so many holy objects inside, and then they took the fish to the water and liberated them.

Also they liberate many small frogs, shellfish and so forth. They take the animals around the Kangyur, which is all the Buddha’s teachings, and the Tengyur, which is the collection of commentaries on the Buddha’s teachings by Indian and Tibetan masters. This has more than two hundred volumes. Then also the collected works of Lama Tsongkhapa, as well as many other holy objects that are inside the center.

The animals are taken around by children, by old people, by people’s parents and so each time the people also go around it purifies their negative karma and plants the seed of enlightenment. It is so unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable! They all get benefits, including all the people, including the children and old people who are taking the animals around, they also get benefits. Then they recite mantras and blow on the water, to bless the water and then pour the blessed water into the containers that hold the sea animals. If it is animals that live on the land, then they sprinkle the blessed water over them and in addition they recite mantras loudly, so that it plants the seed of enlightenment for those animals who can hear the mantras. This is how we liberate animals.

Some people who have joined in these animal liberations have been cured from cancer. This happened for at least one person, as far as I know, and there may be others.

Thank you very much a billion, zillion, trillion times. If you want to write to me, you are most welcome.

My numberless thanks for what you have done, taking care of all the dogs and cats, as well as helping so many people, for doing tong-len and for all that you have done. Thank you very much.

With much love and prayers...