My most dear one,
Of course, of course, there is something to do before your retreat. You must read The Door to Satisfaction, my book on thought transformation. This is the best thing to do before retreat. You can also read How to Practice Dharma: Teachings on the Eight Worldly Dharmas, then your retreat becomes pure. Think strongly about impermanence, compassion and bodhicitta.
Generally, any problem we experience purifies our negative karma from life to life and we will have so much happiness, especially by using sickness on the path to enlightenment. Pray especially to experience the numberless problems of numberless sentient beings. Wow, wow, wow. Yum, yum, yum. What is better than that?
During that time, you can think, “I’m experiencing this problem on behalf of all sentient beings.” Take the problem on the self-cherishing thought, our worst enemy that only harms others and ourselves, and give it to the self-cherishing thought. It is destroyed, just as a US missile is aimed at the enemy target so far away and then totally destroys it in one second.
This is the best Dharma practice and the quick path to enlightenment. It purifies our negative karma. Wow, wow, wow. It’s the best practice. This is what makes the great lojong practitioners so happy!
Choje Gotsangpa said:
By experiencing these problems, sickness, spirit harm and obstacles myself, may all [the sufferings] collected since beginningless lives by other sentient beings be pacified. They are so kind, helping me.
Recite this like a mantra every day, a mala or half mala or whatever you can.
Regarding all the spirit possession, the sickness or other conditions, think, “All the people who harm me are so kind. They are helping me to destroy the self-cherishing thought, my worst enemy. They are helping me to destroy my negative karma, therefore they are most kind.”
Think they are like the guru, who gives us practices and teachings on the path to enlightenment. The spirits that cause problems are similar to that.
Kadampa Geshe Khamlungpa said:
Bad conditions are like the virtuous friend.
The obstacles are persuading us to practice virtue,
Suffering is the broom clearing away our negative karma.
Meditate and be happy with the suffering. Instead of looking at the suffering as suffering, look at it as happiness. Train the mind like that. Don’t let the mind dislike and waste the suffering.
Padampa Sangye of Tingri said:
Even though you think happiness and suffering came from others,
Actually, the condition is yourself.
When we don’t examine [the root cause], it looks like [the problems] came from others, but actually they came from us.
In the Bodhicaryavatara, Shantideva said that if we don’t harm others no one will harm us.
[6:42] In the past I gave harm to other sentient beings,
Therefore sentient beings are now giving harm to me.
It is worthwhile to receive harm from others because we caused harm to them. Otherwise, we think we can give harm to others, but they can’t give harm to us. This is a dictator’s mind!
Also in the Bodhicaryavatara:
[6:47] My karma persuaded others to give this harm to me,
Therefore, [if by my actions] they are born in the hole of the hell,
[Surely it is I who caused this.]
[6:21] Suffering eliminates arrogance
And compassion arises for samsaric beings.
Thus we are careful to avoid creating negative karma
[And find joy in virtue].
When a problem starts, immediately think of these quotations. This protects us from creating negative karma. Somebody well-trained in lojong is happy to experience suffering.
Regarding Six-arm Mahakala, getting sick is the best puja because that is the purification of our past negative karma.
It is said by Kadampa Geshe Khamlungpa:
By experiencing this small suffering
Our past negative karma is purified,
And there will be happiness in the future.
Therefore rejoice, be happy with this present suffering.
So, practice Dharma and go to enlightenment. Goodbye!