My very dear Sonia,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. I am very sorry for the long delay in replying. I am also very sorry for your loss. I have been making prayers for your daughter and also for your whole family.
My way of thinking is—so many people in this world went to bed last night but in the morning did not get up, they died. The cause can be natural, or a coma, also unknown, etc. Death does not come when it is expected. Many times, the doctors do not know the cause of death. Many people die who are healthy, who are young, and it doesn’t make sense. Many people who are in perfect health suddenly die. So many people in this world go to bed and in the morning, they are dead, without any pain, just passing away in their sleep, their breath stops. This happens so many times. Actually, you will find it is not unusual for this to happen, in this world.
You don’t need to feel superstitious regarding this. This is karma. How long one lives and having an untimely death is caused by karma. Death is definite, it’s not like death won’t happen. When someone dies is not fixed according to one’s age. It’s not like when one is 100 or 50 then one dies. The time of death is not fixed. Whether one has a long or short life all depends on past karma.
Regarding what you can do to cause a long life, it is very good if you practice a long life meditation. This is for your long life, also you can do it for your son, but not just for him, also for all other human beings. In the practice you visualize all beings on the moon disc at the deity’s heart, so here you can also think of your son.
With this practice you can achieve any happiness you want, all good things for one’s future lives and especially ultimate happiness—liberation from samsara, including great liberation and enlightenment. Then, one is able to liberate numberless sentient beings from each realm, from all the sufferings and causes, and one is able to bring all sentient beings to great liberation and enlightenment.
This practice causes a long life for you, but also for others. So, it is very good for you to practice one long life meditation every day, such as White Tara, Amitayus, or Namgyalma, whichever you choose.
Whatever you practice you can do not only for yourself, but for your whole family, and also for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is the originator of all sentient beings’ happiness, also all one’s gurus, all other holy beings, and all sentient beings, especially sentient beings who do good things for others. Also, do the practice for sentient beings who live in morality (Sangha).
By doing this practice one can achieve happiness, not only in this life, but in all future lives. This is what one should do if one wants to have a long life. Also, one can do the meditation for others, visualizing others, that they receive the long life nectar, etc. This is one way to prolong one’s life and also others’ lives, as well as all sentient beings’. Also, one can make prayers for all sentient beings’ happiness, especially sentient beings who by staying alive can bring more benefit to others, also for sentient beings who when they die they will be reborn in a lower realm. In that case, to live even one more minute in this world is much less suffering for them, so therefore the longer they can stay alive, the longer their suffering is postponed. In this way, practice every single long life meditation not only for yourself, or for the people in your family, but for all sentient beings.
Other practices and things you can do to cause a long life include liberating animals, which means liberating animals that would otherwise be killed, such as worms that will be used for bait, or insects that will be fed to other animals. You save and protect the animals from an untimely death. If you do animal liberations, then please use the materials that I have put together which explains how to do them, with mantras, etc., as this makes it most beneficial for the animals.
Other things you can do for a long life are: helping people who are sick; giving clothes to people who are poor, also money; giving medicines to people who are sick; and taking care of young or old people, who cannot take care of themselves.
Also, you can make light offerings to statues, stupas, scriptures, and to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. For instance, making a light offering in front of a Tara statue all night long causes a long life. You can make offerings of beautiful coverings for Dharma texts or very nice clothes for Buddha statues.
These are all things one can do to cause a long life; these are just a few examples.
With much love and prayers...