A Good Opportunity to Serve Sentient Beings

A Good Opportunity to Serve Sentient Beings

Date of Advice:
May 2020
Date Posted:
December 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, India was expecting the return of thousands of migrant workers from countries all over the world, in particular, from the Middle East. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Indian government had asked hotels and monasteries, which included some FPMT centers, to house these migrant workers for three weeks. Rinpoche sent this message to center staff, asking them to accept the government's request and allow people to be quarantined on their premises.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling gems,
The government wants those who come back from the West, from outside the country, to stay at hotels and monasteries, and wants to check how many rooms you have.

I think it is a good opportunity to serve sentient beings, the mother sentient beings, the kind mothers, who have been kind to us since beginningless rebirths. Not only that, from beginningless rebirths we have received every single happiness from every hell being, every preta, every animal, every human being, every sura being and every asura being. We receive all our past, present and future happiness, temporary and ultimate happiness, up to the peerless happiness of enlightenment, from them. We receive that future happiness from every sentient being who comes here to stay. Of course, (and this is extra), Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, who we take refuge in, come from sentient beings. So, they are most precious, most dear, most kind and wish-fulfilling for us.

It is said by the great Shantideva of Nalanda in the Bodhicaryavatara [Ch. 1, v. 112], “The sentient beings and the victorious ones, the buddhas, are similar because we can accomplish Buddhadharma from them.” As it comes from the kindness of the buddhas, in exactly the same way, it comes from sentient beings. And as I mentioned before, the Buddha comes from sentient beings. As we respect the Buddha, why not the sentient beings who have been most kind and wish-fulfilling to us? This time we have the opportunity to serve them.

Here is just one example. When we are born to a bird, however many eggs are laid, every day that bird looks for worms and insects, and even if they are not completely dead, she feeds them to her chicks. She feeds her chicks so many times each day. If the mother bird kills one worm or insect, then, by killing that one, for five hundred lifetimes the mother bird will get killed five hundred times. This is besides the karmic result of rebirth in a suffering realm. And even when it is reborn as a human being and receives a human body, there will be so much suffering. The results of that action are unbelievable, just from killing one worm. From that example, we can understand that since the mother bird kills so many worms and other forms of life for us, it is unbelievable karma. And it is not just experienced for one day, but for an unbelievable number of lifetimes.

Also, other sentient beings have been our mother numberless times in numberless life forms. Wow, wow, so many sentient beings have been our mother. Even just as a human being, they had so much suffering and created so much negative karma, like rainfall, to look after us. They suffered from beginningless rebirths and also in the future. They experience unbelievable suffering for us.

Normally we should think this way, and also in this coronavirus situation. As I mentioned before, it is good to recite Vajra Armor mantra and the long-life Buddha’s mantra. And besides that, His Holiness advised us to recite Tara’s mantra and, by doing so, we receive the blessings of His Holiness. It is also good to recite Thangtong Gyalpo’s prayer for blessings against disease, [The Vajra Speech of Mahasiddha Thangtong Gyalpo: The Blessed Prayer Known as “Liberating Sakya from Disease”] with refuge and to recite OM MANI PADME HUM for all sentient beings, and also Thangtong Gyalpo’s prayer to stop famine [The Speech of Mahasiddha Thangtong Gyalpo: A Request to Pacify the Fear of Famine.] You should also follow the other advices that have been given.

Do your best at the beginning to protect yourselves from the virus, but if you do get it, think, “If something can be fixed, what is the benefit of disliking it?” That means fixing it. “If you can’t fix it, what need is there to dislike it?” There is no need and no benefit in doing that, which means you should accept it. [See Bodhicaryavatara, Ch. 6, v. 10.]

Here, since we have been born under the control of karma and delusions, we are in samsara. If we are able to actualize true paths and true cessations—to realize emptiness and the cessation of suffering and achieve the state of an arya bodhisattva, in which there is no old age, sickness, and death—everything will be OK. If we can’t achieve that, we have to die. We can’t live in this world without going through death. There is no one in this world who won’t die. In our world even Buddha showed the aspect of passing away. Since even aryas don’t have to die, of course, Buddha didn’t have to die, but he showed us this aspect in order to show us the need to practice and how to practice in order to become enlightened.

Therefore, rather than experiencing death with anger and big delusions and then being reborn in the lower realms for eons and eons, which can happen, the best thing is to die for the numberless sentient beings, for every sentient being. So, take all the sentient beings’ viruses, sicknesses, defilements, negative karmas, obscurations, the suffering of death and its cause, negative karma and defilements, all those collected from beginningless rebirths, into your heart and destroy the enemy, the self-cherishing thought and grasping at the I as real, and let sentient beings become enlightened. So, you should do that.

To die for sentient beings is the best death. His Holiness says that dying for sentient beings is the best death. Only dying of the virus and not dying otherwise is foolish thinking; you are deceiving yourself. Dying with full awareness and thinking in the most positive way is the happiest death. We collect skies of merit every time we do this and it is the quickest way to achieve enlightenment. Like a warrior who runs toward the bullets however many guns there are, we are a warrior of bodhicitta, which destroys the self-cherishing thought, our enemy. This is the quickest way for us to achieve enlightenment, so we can quickly free all sentient beings from suffering and bring them to enlightenment.

So, letting go of I and cherishing others is an unbelievably fortunate practice. By letting go of the I, all happiness comes. By cherishing others, however much we have to suffer, however much pain we experience for sentient beings, it becomes the quickest way to free sentient beings from samsara and bring them to enlightenment.

Thank you very much. So here you can enjoy the virus, since you are going to use it in the best way.

With much love and prayers ...