My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling ones,
Thank you very much for your kind email. Because you asked me to be guru, I am not qualified, but you try and I will try.
Yes, I understand what you expressed and really it is like this, if you think carefully, and don’t be distracted by the works of this life.
I don’t know how long you have been studying Dharma, such as texts; not just receiving teachings here and there, but studying texts from beginning to end. In my observation it came out very good for you to study in London or Italy at the FPMT study programs happening there.
If you haven’t done much study then you need to do something like that—study, more study, and not just meditating on some techniques. There are people who spend their whole life on breathing meditation, but that doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t go anywhere.
So you can study there for some time and do practice at the same time. Study and practice, like that. It’s not like studying at a university. It’s not like that, but study and practice.
First you need to learn [lam-rim], particularly Lama Tsongkhapa’s lam-rim. This is the best, to get a broader idea on how to practice. Then [study] the whole teaching of the Buddha—the lesser vehicle, the four noble truths, then Mahayana sutra and Mahayana tantra. This is the essence. When you practice lam-rim, the graduated path to enlightenment, especially Lama Tsongkhapa’s lam-rim, this is the essence of it all.
Yes, you are right. You need to practice and study more before doing retreat. Practice means to purify and collect merit.
Start every day with the morning motivation, The Method to Transform a Suffering Life into Happiness (Including Enlightenment), then do Guru Shakyamuni Guru Yoga.
In the future we have a plan for meditators to go to Tibet, if there is good translator. It will be a small group of people, when they are ready to go and also when this lama in Tibet accepts. Then the people need to be ready to go there, to live there for a few months and to study. It comes out very good for you both to do this; to go to Tibet with the group when that happens. This lama is very skillful in guiding meditation. So that is a future plan.
My advice is this. The main thing is learn the lam-rim from beginning to end, then practice purification and collect merits. That is the main purpose of your life.
In general, both of you should study Lama Tsongkhapa’s Middle Length Lam-rim from beginning to end nine times. That means to read it mindfully. That way reading itself becomes meditation; reading is like analytical meditation. If you relate it to your own life, then at the end of each subject your mind is transformed into that. Even if there is no realization, by using reasoning the mind becomes close to that. Keep the mind in that; that is fixed meditation.
So, try like this to begin with. You can send me anything that you think.
With much love and prayers...