How to Transform Obstacles

How to Transform Obstacles

Date of Advice:
December 2017
Date Posted:
March 2018

Rinpoche gave this advice on how to utilize obstacles such as illness on the path to enlightenment. In this way, we can finish the heavy negative karma collected in the past and experience great happiness.

My dear one, 
Now I hope you got better. I did some prayers. I will read the prayer for eliminating pain one time, then if your pain continues the Kopan umdze [chant master] should read the prayer a few times for you. You have to be there when he reads it.

As it is said in the teachings, first think that every happiness—day-to-day happiness; future life happiness (deva and human rebirth); nirvana, the blissful state of peace for oneself which is experienced forever; and even the total cessation of the obscurations and completion of realizations, the peerless happiness—comes from the mind.

All the happiness that we experience came from our mind, and all the suffering—hell, hungry ghost, animal, human being—came from our mind. That’s because in the past we created nonvirtue as well as harming others. All our suffering came from that and all our happiness came from virtue. So our mind is the basic creator, not God, not Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

That’s why the Buddha said:

Do not commit any unwholesome action,
Engage in perfect wholesome action,
Subdue one’s own mind:
This is the teaching of the Buddha.

The basic thing is “Subdue one’s own mind: This is the teaching of the Buddha.” From that comes every happiness—the happiness of today and of the next life, freedom from samsara and the peerless happiness of enlightenment. Everything comes from our mind. Therefore, it’s totally up to us. We always have to use our mind in a way that is positive because it’s the cause of all our happiness. Not in a negative way, which is the cause of all our suffering. We don’t like suffering, so we have to abandon that mind. Subduing the mind, that is what is called Dharma practice. What I’ve explained is not only what the Buddha said; if we check, it is according to our own experience.

It is said in the teachings:

Even if the environment and beings are filled with the fruits of negativity,
And unwished for sufferings pour down like rain,
I seek your blessings to take these miserable conditions as a path
By seeing them as causes to exhaust the results of my negative karma.
- [Lama Chӧpa, v.96]

As mentioned in the Lama Chӧpa or Guru Puja, composed by the enlightened lama Panchen Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen, we have to think like this about whatever problem we are experiencing. We have to think it’s good because we are finishing the heavy negative karma collected in the past from beginningless rebirths by experiencing it now in this life as some problem. This is instead of experiencing the result of the heavy negative karma collected in the past as suffering in the hell realms and so forth, even for eons. Experiencing the problem in this life means that due to Dharma practice we don’t have to experience all that long-term unimaginable heavy suffering of the lower realms. Just by experiencing some problem in this life, all that heavy negative karma is experienced in the form of this problem.

Not only that, in the future there will be great happiness like the sun shining. There will be greater and greater happiness, like the sun shining, then buddhahood, the total cessation of the obscurations and completion of the realizations. When the sun shines, all the people and animals in the world enjoy it. There will be incredible happiness for us up to enlightenment, like the sun shining.

Kadampa Geshe Khamlungpa said:

Even experiencing the present little suffering finishes past negative karmas. In the future there will be happiness. Therefore, rejoice in the suffering.

It very much depends on what we think. If we look at the quality of the situation then we rejoice. If we look at it as bad, it turns out to be a problem. So that result is not physically healthy and not healthy for the mind. It makes us sick physically and mentally.

Utilize the problem on the path to enlightenment. The best way to do this is with tonglen. Use the problem, whatever it is, to practice bodhicitta, then it gets used on the path to enlightenment, especially by doing tonglen. You should learn tonglen and do tonglen. If you don’t know how to do it, I must explain it to you.

Thank you very much. This is my advice to you, my advice for your life. This is better than going to hundreds of doctors in Singapore, including Western psychologists.

Please enjoy this.

With love and prayer ...

Sorry to add a little more. The thought transformation practice is not just to solve our problems. When we experience a problem and utilize it on the path to enlightenment, it is most beneficial to experience it, because it leads to all happiness and even enlightenment. That’s the real meaning of thought transformation.