My most dear, most precious, most kind, wish-fulfilling one,
I am sorry for the long delay in replying to your letter. Thank you very much your kind letter, introducing yourself.
I like very much the way you acted when you were young, for example, your stepfather giving money to your brother and you pretending not to see it. That is very good. Then like that, the many other things that you did, how you behaved. It is very good, doing things to not hurt others, including your mother and stepfather. Anything you did to not hurt others is very, very kind, very good. I like your motivation; I like it a lot. That means you are a beautiful human being. You are good, your mind is good, you have a generally healthy mind, but you need more understanding.
Even my father, I didn’t see my father. He died when I was in my mother’s womb or in the bamboo container (where the baby is kept) when I was very small. I am not sure when exactly.
My mother had many children but they all died. One son had a head like a buddha’s head, with a crown protrusion, however he didn’t live long; he died. My mother didn’t want my elder sister to become a nun. My mother wanted her to take care of the family, but my sister didn’t listen and she became a nun at a nunnery. She is still alive. She got a nickname which was “blacksmith.” By having a nickname, when you have life obstacles then the nickname helps that; it takes away the obstacles. So she has this nickname. There was another sister, I don’t know if she was born before or after me. She had a little tail, like a small finger, but she died when she was very young and when I was in Tibet.
Also my mother died a long time ago. She reincarnated as a wonderful child, but that child had many obstacles. His father didn’t follow my advice, but followed some other people’s advice—a nun or some other person who did divinations (observations) —so the child went to another monastery and then died. This is just making the story very short, the essence of it. My younger brother is alive and he is director of the cave in Solu Khumbu, the Lawudo monastery. His name is Sangay, which in Tibetan means Buddha.
In general, we have no idea of our father and mother. We lived nine months in our mother’s womb and then came out, and also our father, those who took care of us, we only remember a little, then the rest someone told us, like telling us, “This is your mother and this is your father.” It is usually up to what people say, then we believe what people say. Please don’t worry at all about these points, whether he is actually your father or not.
Please come to know that the Buddha, the Omniscient One, has so much compassion for you, for me and for all sentient beings, like a hundred thousand times more than a mother has for her only cherished child. The Buddha has said that all sentient beings have been our own father and our own mother.
Even this life’s mother, it is not the first time she has been our mother. This life’s mother has been our mother numberless times from beginningless rebirth. This life’s father, it is not the first time he has been our father. He has been our father numberless times from beginningless rebirths. Not only as a human being but as many different living beings, such as those who get reborn from the womb, all the different kinds of animals, pretas (hungry ghosts) and many living beings. Like that he has been our father. Even when we were born in the animal realm, he was our father. Also all other sentient beings have been our mother and father numberless times.
Buddha said that he has been our father numberless times from beginningless samsaric rebirths. Everyone has been our father from beginningless samsaric rebirths—every animal in the ocean, large like a mountain and so small that we can’t see it with our own eyes but only through a machine. All the fish, turtles, sharks, all the numberless beings in the ocean have all been our own mother numberless times from beginningless rebirths, as well as being our own father. Every human being has been our mother numberless times, as well as being our father numberless times.
Like that they have also been our own brother and sister numberless times. They have also been extremely kind to us. By being our own father, mother, sister or brother, they have also supported us, given us food and saved us from harm and from death. They have supported us.
In addition there are numberless universes, not only this world, but numberless universes and numberless realms. That means numberless worldly gods, numberless human beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, all those beings in the different universes, of which there are numberless universes, they have all been our mother and father numberless times and we have been their mother and father numberless times.
Now, in reality, we don’t know that, because of ignorance. For example, I don’t know what I talked about yesterday or what I ate yesterday. I forget this all the time, therefore I can use this same logic. Just because I don’t remember what I ate yesterday, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t eat food yesterday. I don’t remember what I ate but I can’t say that I didn’t eat anything. That doesn’t become logical. This is the same with not remembering past lives or not even remembering being born, not remembering coming out from the mother’s womb. We don’t remember many things from our childhood time; we don’t even remember things that happened yesterday. Like me, many people even forget things that happened yesterday.
This proves that the first consciousness, when we were conceived in the mother’s womb, is a dependent arising, dependent on cause and conditions. It came from the consciousness prior to that. This is how it happened. The parents created karma and we created the karma to be born to them, from past lives, so then it happened. This is why these people became our parents. For example maybe the mother wasn’t even planning to have children, but still it happened, and she got pregnant and a child was born. Therefore the child had the karma to be born to those parents.
My teacher, Lama Yeshe, who took care of me for many years, after he passed away he was reincarnated to his students, a Spanish couple. Before he passed away he gave many advices to them, to start a school for children. They were not planning to have children, but the mother got pregnant and then Lama Ösel was born to them. My master was born to them, reincarnated. They were students of Lama Yeshe for maybe twenty years before that.
I have a book at Kopan monastery in Nepal by a professor who did research, not only in the East but also in the West, about children who could remember their past lives. He found many children who could remember their past lives and also old people, then he wrote a whole book about their life stories. It is in the library at Kopan.
My own experience is that I can’t remember my past lives, but for example when I meditate, it’s not realizations, but there are some experiences. This is due to imprints from past lives, that is what I think.
Not long ago in India there was one family whose son died by a car accident. The son was from a family that lived high on a hill, but he was reborn to a family that lived lower down the same hill. One day the reborn child went up to the family house that was high on the hill, where he had lived in his past life. He immediately went into the office, where in his past life he used to work on a computer. In this life he had never used a computer before, but he immediately sat down and used the computer. So he remembered this from his past life.
Also in ancient times in India, a great learned Buddhist pandit—which means learned in Dharma teachings —wanted to prove reincarnation to some Hindus, so when this pandit passed away he put a pearl in his mouth. When he was reincarnated, at the time when he was reborn, he had a pearl in his mouth. That was huge proof for the Hindus, to dispel the wrong concepts, the wrong thought that there is no reincarnation and proof that there is continuation of consciousness.
There are some other examples. My mother’s best friend, called Ang Puwa, came to my mother’s incarnation’s house to see the incarnation, who was a small child. Ang Puwa sat down and then my mother’s incarnation was given some tea. Then the incarnation of my mother said, “Ang Puwa, Ang Puwa, Ang Puwa, please take some ....” The incarnation clearly remembered his best friend from his past life and even remembered his name, Ang Puwa.
Ang Puwa is a very kind person. He helps many people in Thangme village, which is where I was born and many people like him. My mother’s incarnation could remember his name very clearly and when the incarnation said this, Ang Puwa grabbed him and put him on his lap, and Ang Puwa cried and cried and cried.
Another example is that my mother used to collect plastic button from shirts. In the old times in the Himalayan mountains, things like spoons and plastic buttons were regarded as very precious, because you couldn’t get these in that area. They were very rare and you had to get them from very far away, so people regarded them as precious and wore the spoons and buttons on their neck. My mother collected plastic buttons from shirts and put them all in a bottle. When the incarnation of my mother came, my sister had made a shirt using all the buttons my mother had previously collected in the bottle. When the incarnation was given the shirt to wear with all the buttons, the small child suddenly said, “These are my buttons.”
Also the incarnation remembered many things that had been used by my mother, such as things in the kitchen. When the incarnation visited Lawudo, he always looked for my mother’s things until he found them. Also the incarnation talked very straight—he didn’t feel shy, not like how he behaved in front of new people—he behaved very similar to the way my mother did. When the incarnation came into Lawudo gompa, he acted in exactly the same way my mother used to. My mother would bow down to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s throne, then where I would sit, and then bow down to the statues, and then she would go around the gompa seven times. When the incarnation came, he did exactly the same thing. This is when he came the first time.
Besides these stories, there are many other stories like this. It is not really known very much in the West; it is not mentioned in the education or in society very much. There are many individual experiences from people who remember—old people and young people—but it is not really known much in society.
I am telling you this because maybe it can help. These stories are all about people being born from the mother’s womb, but there are also animal stories, for example, animals born from the womb, like bugs and lice, animals born from heat or chickens born from eggs. Then also there is just the consciousness entering, like consciousness entering inside bamboo. There is no way any insect or animal can get inside the bamboo because it has sealed sections, but still there are snakes or worms born inside the sections of bamboo. Also it is the same with being born inside fruit, etc.
When we are born from the womb, we have to have a mother, however, we have been born in all different ways and other sentient beings have all been our mother numberless times and have been kind to us numberless times.
Therefore, please enjoy your life and be happy; this is what the kind Omniscient One, the Compassion Buddha, explained. Through meditation, remembering the kindness of all beings and thinking about beginningless rebirths, you can realize this more and more, and you can remember hundreds and thousands of your past lives more and more. Then more and more you can realize how sentient beings have been your mother numberless times and have been kind to you.
I like you very much, also when you said you love animals; you said animals are like your life. I am smiling when I say this. It makes me very happy.
You see many people in the world do not know that even the animals have been their mother, father, brother and sister numberless times. They don’t know this and also they don’t understand karma and they don’t know about reincarnation, so they keep snakes, lizards and so forth as pets, and then they feed those animals with other animals like worms, crickets and live mice. That is mainly about one’s own attachment—not love, but attachment to just one type of animal. They have other animals like worms and so on to feed alive to their pet, but they don’t think that the other animals or insects also want happiness and don’t want suffering and don’t want to die. They don’t think of that and only think of the animals that they keep as pets. It is only those animals that they have attachment for. However, we must not be partial and we must have compassion for all beings, loving kindness for all, not just for one type of animal or just one person. That is not loving kindness or compassion; that is attachment.
As you love animals I want to let you know about a few things we have been doing at our centers. At our center in Singapore, Amitabha Buddha Centre, they have liberated over 250 million animals, mainly fish and other sea animals. They saved the animals’ lives. This means that those animals were going to be killed and the center saved their lives. Then also at the retreat center in Washington State [Buddha Amitabha Pure Land Retreat Center] and at my house in Aptos, California, every week the Sangha there save roughly two thousand worms that otherwise would be used as fishing bait. They buy them and take them around the stupas and statues, to purify their negative karma that has been collected from beginningless rebirths and so they can get higher rebirths, to be able to meet the Dharma, to be reborn as a human being or deva, and eventually to plant the seed of buddhahood, the peerless happiness, the total cessation of all the obscurations and completion of all the realization, buddhahood.
Also the Sangha bless water by reciting mantras and then blowing on the water, then they sprinkle the blessed water on the animals that are being liberated. For those animals that can hear, the Sangha also recite mantras so as to benefit them as much as possible.
In Washington there are over twenty nests of ants, so the Sangha make up food for the ants, with flour and sugar and honey. They bless the food by reciting mantras into it as well as mixing very precious substances like mani pills. They also mix the food with butter and sugar and let it dry, then they sprinkle it over the ants’ nests. The ants then eat it, so this is actually making charity to the ants in Washington. Many other centers also do big animal liberations, for example, in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.
In the past in India or Nepal we also used to buy goats that were going to be killed. I would buy goats that were going to be killed if I saw them. Often they are tied up outside butcher shops, so as much as possible I buy them, then we keep them at the monastery. Now we have an animal sanctuary in Nepal so that we can save more and they can live out their life there. There is a stupa on the land, so they can go around that.
Now I am thinking of starting a retirement home for chickens in south India. I want to build a house for maybe one thousand chickens that otherwise would be killed for food. Because chickens eat worms and ants all day and in this way create a lot of negative karma, I want to build a house where they can live inside and have food on the floor, so they don’t have to eat worms and ants, and in this way they don’t have to kill them. On the ceiling of the house, we would put mantras, then if the chickens go under that, the mantra purifies one thousand eons of negative karma. We would cover the ceiling with these mantras and also with Namgyalma mantras, the mantra of the buddha of long life. This mantra is extremely powerful to purify negative karma and obscurations. So we would cover the ceiling with these mantras.
If the chickens die there they would never get reborn as an animal, they would get higher rebirths and hopefully meet the Dharma. Chickens are different from goats, as goats don’t eat other animals, therefore the goats are OK to be on the ground. Chickens eat insects all day so we need to keep them off the ground and give them other food. This is why I was thinking to have a house for the chickens, one place for many chickens to live. Also I can play mantras and the Buddha’s teachings to them, so they can hear the Buddha’s teachings and in this way it plants the seed of enlightenment in their mind and purifies their past negative karma and defilements.
Please think that everyone is your father and mother, and please enjoy your life. Enjoy your life and make your life most beneficial for sentient beings, that is the most important thing—to benefit others and not to harm others, including yourself. It is very important if you can learn Dharma. This is the most important thing, to read and to learn more and more Dharma, the Buddha’s teachings. Then you know how to not harm yourself and how to not harm others, all sentient beings.
If you have any questions, please write to me and I will answer, when I have time. I hope you like the statue I sent and the mala.
I beg you—you are such a good girl with such a good heart and you love animals very much. I like that very much, so please, please, please read Dharma books and learn about the Buddha’s teachings and way to think. This will help you so much.
This is my advice for you, to make your mind happy and to make other sentient beings happy.
With much love and prayers,