How to Help People Who Are Sick and Dying

How to Help People Who Are Sick and Dying

Date of Advice:
September 2017
Date Posted:
December 2018

Rinpoche advised a student how to best help people in hospital who were ill and approaching death, by reciting prayers and dedicating other daily practices for them.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
It doesn’t come out for you to keep going to the hospital to help the dying. Maybe they don’t have the karma.

You don’t have to go to help them; instead, wherever you stay, you can do the Eight Prayers to Benefit the Dead. Recite a different one, or two, each day, dedicated for them, for example, the King of Prayers, the Prayer of the Virtuous Beginning, Middle and End, the Prayer to Be Reborn in Sukhavati, Shantideva’s Dedication Prayer, and so forth. You can do that for them, as well as for every sentient being of the six realms.

Also, every OM MANI PADME HUM mantra you recite, or whatever mantras you do, such as Vajrayogini, you can do for every sentient being, including those who are sick and dying. That is helpful for them. Whatever you practice normally, do for others. Try to live your life for others—for every single sentient being, including every single insect, even the tiniest animals, and every single sura and asura. Whatever you do, try to help and dedicate it to everybody. That is very good.

Sometimes going to see people who are dying, if you don’t really know what helps them, then it can be that it doesn’t help and can even disturb their mind, causing attachment. Even if they regard it as good, actually it harms them by generating attachment. In the West people think attachment is very good, but they don’t know that generating attachment to the other person in reality is not helping but is harming.

Renunciation, bodhicitta, emptiness and correctly following virtuous friend [help those who are dying]. This is just talking from the side of sutra. This helps, otherwise it’s not so good. You have to know what is helping and what is harming. You have to know that. In the West, maybe the person is your enemy, but when that person is dying and you go to see them in hospital, if that person can’t speak, they may die with anger or attachment. So it harms them; it causes them to be reborn in the lower realms. I am using this as an example.

Anyway, for the time being it doesn’t come out to help those people who are dying and in the hospitals. What comes out best is to focus on your preliminary practices, retreats and to do prayers for those people.

With much love and prayers ...