My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
How are you? I’m extremely happy that you wrote me a letter, telling me your news.
I think you told me before that you didn’t marry because men are cheating. I thought that was a very intelligent answer, that they are extremely deceiving. I had never heard that answer from women. That’s a very intelligent answer but very rare to hear. Most people don’t think like that. It’s very, very true. Cheating has many different levels. By cheating, the man will marry or stay with a woman to have happiness for himself—for himself or herself, as nowadays there’s gay marriage also.
It’s due to the self-cherishing thought, for that person to have happiness. Either their partner looks beautiful or is rich or highly educated, so there are different reasons. They get happiness for themselves and for ordinary people that’s the general motivation. That’s normally how the ordinary people think. It’s also from the woman’s side as well, not only the man’s side. Even though the person looks like and talks like they care for you, doing everything for you and for your happiness; even though it looks like that, for ordinary beings, in the very heart it is for their own happiness first. That’s the main thing.
The next level of cheating is to look for their own happiness by being totally attached to this life’s happiness, which is for a very short time. Being concerned with the attachment to this life is included in the first one that I have mentioned. The second motivation is to be with the person or to be married for their own future life happiness, if not attached to this life’s happiness. Then the next is self-cherishing, which I think was mentioned the first time. To be clear, I mentioned that. That’s the usual motivation.
Of course, with a real spiritual Dharma friend, with Dharma [motivation], that relationship is pure. That is their reason to be with a partner—they are married, but not with attachment to this life at all. Even more pure than that is not having attachment to the next life, to our own samsaric happiness. This is purer than before. Purer than this is like the bodhisattva, having no self-cherishing thought at all. It’s been totally abandoned, and the only motivation is bodhicitta, cherishing that person and cherishing sentient beings—even the tiniest insects, worms, any of the tiniest sentient beings in the water (I don’t even know their names). Numberless beings are cherished, most cherished—the numberless animals that live in the water, all kinds, some that look like rocks, some that look like flowers or trees, all kinds. Some are large like mountains, for example, whales; some are under the ground, for example worms and so forth; some are in the bushes, on and inside the trees and also inside people’s bodies. Usually, there are 21,000 microorganisms in the body. There are also numberless human beings, numberless suras and asuras.
The bodhisattva cherishes everyone the most. Not only cherishing others just as we cherish ourselves, not just that, but by renouncing the I, only cherishing other sentient beings the most, just as numberless bodhisattvas and of course numberless buddhas do. As with bodhicitta, there are different levels of bodhisattvas before they become a buddha.
Buddha Shakyamuni was born in Lumbhini and became enlightened, however, that was just an outside aspect. Showing totally holy deeds, showing enlightenment in Bodhgaya and all that was just an outside show. In actuality, Buddha was enlightened a long time ago, many eons ago. While Buddha was showing birth in Lumbini and enlightenment here, at the same time, in another universe, Buddha showed enlightenment and showed turning the Dharma wheel, while in some other universe Buddha showed descending from Tushita. He showed all these different activities in different universes at the same time. That is the Mahayana way of thinking, that’s the reality. According to the Hinayana way of thinking, the general people’s common way, the Buddha was born in Lumbhini for the first time, and he was enlightened in Bodhgaya for the first time and in all the other places like that.
In the past it happened that bodhisattvas had one thousand wives, only to benefit numberless sentient beings. There are numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, sura and asura beings, intermediate state beings; there are numberless in each realm.
Some time back I went to Bhutan and the benefactor who had invited me to Bhutan and helped with my pilgrimage, his father had married another wife. I think it was a relative on the second mother’s side, a young girl, who told me that she didn’t trust the men she saw as she felt they were cheating her. She had just generally discovered that the way men thought was cheating her, similar to what you said. What she said was very intelligent. At that time she wasn’t married, but maybe she is married now. This was a long time ago, so I don’t know what happened after that. She was supposed to come to Kopan for a course but then I wrote back and didn’t get an answer. She does psychology work for her living, for her job.
My advice for people in married life is to have a bodhisattva’s attitude, and even if you don’t have bodhicitta, you have to follow that. Your life is for sentient beings and for that person with whom you live, to free them from suffering and problems and to achieve happiness for them. That’s how we should live. The general idea is the husband lives with that mind for the wife or girlfriend, and the girlfriend lives the life with that mind for the husband. At least if one person lives life like that, with a good heart, then the other person will learn from your good heart. There are many people who generally have a good heart and are a good example. When the husband or the wife is a good example, then the other person becomes a good person, good-hearted, later.
There are many people in the world who do not harm human beings or even insects; not harming and benefiting others as much as we can. Then, like that, we are able to bring peace and happiness in the world, first within our family and from that to our friends and from there, gradually, that’s how we bring peace and happiness in the world. We stop giving harm, starting with ourselves and our family and then we stop giving harm to the rest of the world. So really that’s a good example of a good human being in the world, not harming but helping others, everyone. Other people then rely on, trust and seek happiness from us and we become the guide and helper to many people, many sentient beings. We live our life in this way, really enjoying it and with no regrets.
I am so happy to know that your husband is Hindu but you didn’t give up Buddhadharma and chose to follow Buddhadharma. For me, it was like you were giving me a billion dollars. Actually that’s nothing, even a billion dollars is nothing. If you are thinking why, it is a question of the right path or wrong path. It is like this. If you were to fall into a hole of fire, and then people on top send different ropes to you, so you have several ropes to choose from, to hold onto, in order to get out of the fire. In my view, according to my understanding, after so many years of a little practice of Buddhism and thinking about what is right and wrong, that you chose to follow Buddhism, is like that. There’s no mistake from your side. You are really holding on to the rope that you can fully trust and that will definitely pull you up from the fire, from danger. You didn’t hold onto the wrong rope that could break or wouldn’t save you from the fire. There are many other ropes like that. So it’s like that. Maybe you did that from your natural feeling, your karma, and also your parents are Buddhist. There can be different reasons. However, that was the best and wisest choice. Your husband can follow what he believes until he asks questions and checks. He can check and then he will realize the effects and differences, slowly, slowly. It is different and if you open his mind he can enlighten his own mind, he can let the light of wisdom shine in his life. After some time that is possible, depending on you and because of the example of you.
In recent years His Holiness has been saying that all the major religions are the same in carrying the message of loving kindness, and that even before the Buddha, Indians had the religion that carried the message of loving kindness for people. In terms of the view, there are differences in the different religions and even within Buddhism, there are four different schools with different views. So it is like that. Regarding the views there are many, and within Buddhism there are different views. There are many details like that.
For example, when Lama Atisha, went to Indonesia, he was already famous as a great pandit. He took about one year, thirteen months I think, going by boat with many pandit disciples. Then for twelve years he received complete teachings on bodhicitta, like pouring from one container, whatever it contains, into another container, completely like that. For twelve years he received teachings on bodhicitta from Lama Serlingpa. Lama Atisha had 157 gurus, but when he heard Lama Serlingpa’s name, tears came out and he would put his palms together, prostrating, like that. When somebody mentioned Lama Serlingpa, he would suddenly get up and pay respects with palms together. He had so much devotion. But in terms of the view, Lama Serlingpa’s view was not the highest view. It was the Mind Only school’s view, the Cittamatrin view, while Lama Atisha’s view was the Madhyamaka view.
There are two schools of Madhyamaka. If possible, you have to know the names of the four schools: in Sanskrit they are Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Cittamatra (Mind Only) and Madhyamaka schools, then in Madhyamaka school there are two divisions: Svantantrika and Prasangika. Lama Atisha’s own view was Prasangika-Madhyamaka, the ultimate view. We have to realize that because only then can we eliminate the root of our samsara, the root of all our suffering, the ignorance holding the I as real while it is not, while it is totally empty. The I that exists, exists in mere name because there is a valid base, the aggregates. Lama Atisha’s view was the highest view of Prasangika, while Lama Serlingpa’s view was Cittamatra, not even the Madhyamaka school view. However, Lama Atisha received complete teachings for twelve years, the teachings on bodhicitta, hence he respected highly and had incredible devotion [for Lama Serlingpa].
Another example is Lama Dharmarakshita. There’s a teaching given by Lama Dharmarakshita called The Wheel of Sharp Weapons. It’s a very, very, very good, incredibly practical teaching. If you don’t have the book let me know and I will send it to you. It’s incredibly good to at least sometimes read that, and then you will know how every trouble came from our own mind—how all the different problems came from the self-cherishing thought—and also how to deal with them. So that’s an incredible, unbelievable teaching and practice.
It is said in the Bodhicaryavatara by the great Indian bodhisattva Shantideva,
[1: 28] Although wishing to be rid of misery,
They run towards misery itself.
Although wishing to have happiness,
Like an enemy they ignorantly destroy it.
Shantideva said, “How much the sentient beings do not wish to suffer, but they run to create the cause of suffering.” That means their general wish is not to suffer, but they create the cause of suffering. Even for that, they run, keeping extremely busy, day and night. “How much they wish, desire to experience happiness, but they always destroy the cause of happiness, like an enemy.” They are totally ignorant, and if I tell you exactly, straightforwardly, it’s with attachment. Of course, ignorance, attachment and anger are the causes of samsara, the causes of our sufferings and problems. For example, with attachment to this life’s happiness, then all the efforts of our body, speech and mind, working day and night, are all the cause of suffering, even though we are thinking, believing that we are creating the causes of happiness and we work for happiness with that belief. Our actions of body, speech and mind only become virtue if they are done purely with the motivation not to harm and to benefit other sentient beings.
Actions done without attachment to this life, unstained by that nonvirtuous thought, are at least the lowest virtue, and Dharma. The second type of Dharma actions are those done with body, speech and mind without attachment to the future life’s happiness. Then, the best Dharma actions are those done without the self-cherishing thought, only cherishing other sentient beings. The actions of body, speech and mind done with that, with bodhicitta, then become the cause of enlightenment.
Before that, we see the entire samsara as only in the nature of suffering and so we have total renunciation, wanting to be free from that and then we seek nirvana, ultimate happiness, and the means to achieve that. That is pure Dharma, even more pure than the second Dharma. It’s the third Dharma. Of course, the best Dharma is with bodhicitta, totally renouncing the I, the self-cherishing thought, and only cherishing most the sentient beings. Actions of body, speech and mind done with that [motivation] are the cause of enlightenment and are the best Dharma. That brings happiness, enlightenment, to numberless sentient beings.
Understanding what is Dharma and what is not Dharma is so important. It is so important for us to understand what is Dharma and what is not Dharma. Dharma doesn’t mean only reciting prayers or meditating or reading texts or going around the temple. It doesn’t mean only that.
There is a story I want to tell you. In a place called Reting in Tibet, there’s a huge monastery where many Kadampa lamas came from. They were great meditators who achieved the path—bodhicitta and tantric realizations. The monastery was founded by Dromtönpa, who was the great translator for Lama Atisha, who came from Nalanda to restore Buddhadharma in Tibet, after which Buddhadharma was like the sun rising in Tibet.
There was one old man meditating and Gyalwa Dromtönpa, who was a layperson, was walking through the trees in the forest. He asked the old man, “What are you doing sir?” The man replied, “I’m meditating.” “It’s good that you are meditating, but it’s better if you practice Dharma,” said Dromtonpa.
So then the old man started to read scriptures. He thought maybe reading scriptures was Dharma. Again, one day, when Gyalwa Dromtönpa was walking around in the forest, he met the man and asked, “What are you doing, sir?” He said, “I’m reading texts.” Gyalwa Dromtönpa said, “That’s good that you are reading Dharma texts, but isn’t it better to practice Dharma?”
Then the old man thought maybe circumambulating the temple might be Dharma, so he spent time doing that. Again, one day Gyalwa Dromtönpa met the old man and asked, “What are you doing?” The man replied, “I’m circumambulating the temple.” “It’s good that you are circumambulating the temple but isn’t it better to practice Dharma?” said Dromtönpa.
Only the third time, after three answers, the old man asked, “What do you mean by practicing Dharma?” Then Gyalwa Dromtönpa replied, “Renounce this life. Renounce this life.” That doesn’t mean we give up our house, we give up food, we give up our clothing, and just live with a naked body in a cave or something. It doesn’t mean that. Probably, to renounce our body like that means to commit suicide. I’m joking. What it means is to give up the delusions from where all the suffering comes, from where the karma and all the suffering comes.
Among the delusions, there’s attachment, and from that, anger and other delusions can arise. Also, ignorance can arise. If we examine our life, it comes from attachment clinging to this life. We can see with a tree root, there are four or five big roots and from there, larger and larger, more and more, hundreds and thousands of additional roots come out. Like that, from attachment the problems of this life spread out. It’s unbelievable, unbelievable, the life problems, and from that we have so much suffering in the next life and the next life and all the coming lives. So much suffering.
From that karma we suffer for so many lifetimes and then we create suffering again, because of our habituation to creating negative karma before. Our suffering goes on and on without end. It is like that if we don’t know what is Dharma and what is not Dharma. All the problems in the world, what people suffer, everything, even the world wars, everything comes from attachment, worldly concern, desire, our own attachment. I heard—Roger was telling me—that the first world war started from one person.
To make it short, first understand right and wrong and then karma. As I already started to speak about karma before, when I described the sentient beings and their suffering, one basic thing about karma is that all our happiness comes from virtuous karma. The result, happiness, comes. And all our suffering comes from nonvirtuous karma. If you have a lamrim text, with the examples of the ten nonvirtuous karmas and the ten virtuous karmas, that will give you some idea through the examples.
It is said by Buddha in tsom, which means a heap of teachings [Tib: Ched du brjod pa’i tshoms; Pali: Dhammapada]:
All phenomena are created by the mind.
The mind is the principal and it goes before.
This means [the mind precedes] the actions of body and speech. For example, by generating a good heart, which means thinking to not harm and to benefit others, then when we talk to someone we get happiness. To give you an example, it’s like the shadow which follows the body. Wherever the body goes, when there’s light, the shadow definitely follows. Whenever we have a good motivation, a good heart, then any actions of body, speech and mind that are done toward others, the resultant happiness always arises for us after that, and not only for ourselves but also for others, whether they are human beings or animals.
By generating a bad heart, a bad mind, then when we talk to someone, suffering arises from that, which means not only suffering for ourselves but also suffering for others. We have to understand this. The example is given of the heavy wheel of the cart which follows after the ox. In India the ox has to pull a heavy cart full of iron bars and so many things, and then people sit on top. No matter how much the ox suffers, for example, getting beaten by a human for not working, that ox can’t express anything about their suffering. There’s no choice until they can’t work, until they die.
So you see, Buddhism, holy Dharma, is to do with the motivation, the negative or positive mind. That’s why all phenomena come from mind, are created by the mind. Hence it’s very important to understand karma, from where the happiness and suffering comes. That’s a worldly right view, understanding karma. Right view beyond the world is emptiness or ultimate view, and from among the four schools, it’s the Prasangika-Madhyamaka view. That’s it. These are just some drops to explain to you, just drops.
If we come to know, if we understand and realize the Prasangika ultimate view then we can be free from samsara, from the oceans of suffering of the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, suras and asuras, otherwise not. Even though other schools talk about their own view, by understanding that, it only helps us to understand the ultimate, the Prasangika view. With the other schools’ views alone, by realizing that, we cannot be free from samsara, we cannot eliminate ignorance.
Please pray to Tara and always pray to be like Tara, from this life up to enlightenment, all the time, in all the life. This prayer contains all the prayers. It’s the best prayer and it means for our life to be most beneficial for sentient beings. Then, whatever happens in life, whatever is the best for sentient beings, for their happiness, most beneficial for them, for that to happen. If we pray like that, then whatever happens, we think that is most beneficial for sentient beings, whether we die or live, are sick or healthy, whatever happens.
Since you are doing doctor’s work and are involved with medicines and treating people, sentient beings, I think it is very good to pray also to Medicine Buddha and to do Medicine Buddha practice. In these degenerate times, Medicine Buddha’s power is increasing, therefore praying to Medicine Buddha is so good, for you to be successful. By your treatment, even just by touching you, other beings will recover from their sicknesses, like that, and even when they see you, they will immediately recover from their sickness and problems, both physical and mental.
I have a short Medicine Buddha practice from some years ago. If you can practice this, it’s incredibly good, for your activities to be most beneficial for sentient beings. I can send you this, and you can practice it slowly, slowly. However, reciting the seven Medicine Buddhas’ names and reciting the mantra is very important, and the essence is that. Then all your wishes and prayers to benefit sentient beings will come true. I will send you this and slowly, slowly you can practice it. Most important is to recite the Medicine Buddhas’ names seven times each and recite the mantra. That’s the essence.
I will explain here one prayer for you. “Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times’ merits collected by numberless sentient beings and numberless buddhas, may any sentient being who sees me, hears me, touches me, remembers me or talks about me, and when I see a sentient being, hear a sentient being, remember, touch, talk to and talk about a sentient being, just by that may all their suffering, mental and physical, be pacified immediately, and may they achieve all the happiness including enlightenment.”
If you pray, at least once in the morning, afternoon and evening, or however many times you pray, wow, it’s incredible. [If you recite this prayer] even by seeing your photo—I will tell you from my experience—even dogs that are about to die will get better, just by seeing your picture. Someone with a heart problem can recover from their heart disease by rubbing your picture on their heart. There are so many things.
This happened to me because I did this prayer. In Australia, one family had a dog and the vet decided that the dog would die, so it should be taken back home. The mother brought the dog back home and put my picture on the pillar where the dog was sitting. The mother said the dog took refuge from me, that’s what the mother said, but I think probably the dog sat there and looked at the photo. Anyway, the dog got better after that by looking at my picture. One daughter had a heart problem and the mother, who had my photo, rubbed it at the daughter’s heart and her heart problem got better. These two stories are what I remember. There could be others which I haven’t heard or have forgotten. I’m not sure. Like that, if you make that prayer then in different parts of the world these things happen.
Thank you very much. I wrote a very, very long letter. It’s very important to be kind, and if you are married, to be kind to your husband. This is very important as then he will learn so much from you. This is generally, and that’s not only with your husband but also with people, animals and even insects. If you have insects in your bed or ants in the kitchen or on your table, if there’s a buddha statue, take the animal and put it in a box or on paper, then take it around the statue, like seven times, then take it away and put it in a safe place. If you see worms or flies or anything on the road and other people coming up to you might crush them, then you should blow them away or take them in your hands and put them at the side in a safe place so they don’t get crushed by others. Like that you can help them. That’s a great, great benefit, an unbelievable benefit.
I will tell you one story. There was a leaf with seven tiny insects on it. It was carried and blown by the wind and it went on the water and circumambulated Buddha Kashyapa’s statue seven times, while on the water. Because of that, so much negative karma was purified and so much merit was collected and then they were born as human beings in the next life, but as a lower caste. That aspect of lower caste was connected with some story of a past life, I think. There was a statue of Buddha Kashyapa, and they went around it, (I’m not one hundred percent sure) and were born as human beings in the next life. They got renunciation to being born in a lower caste or general caste and then in the next life they were born very high. I don’t remember the name but very high, I guess famous.
Those seven people met Buddha Kashyapa, who gave them a prediction that they were going to be enlightened. That was very quick. After being tiny insects, then they were blown by the wind on water, then they circumambulated Buddha Kashyapa’s statue and were born as humans, then after that—of course they practiced Dharma—they met Buddha Kashyapa who predicted their enlightenment. That was very quick. So it’s very good to take insects around a statue of Buddha or a stupa or something, and that’s easier than taking them around a thangka, a painting of the Buddha with brocade around it. For this purpose, a statue or a stupa is suitable.
I have in mind to send you some protection, the mantra of the deity Namgyalma, who is enlightened, to keep in the house so that any sentient being, even insects and flies who get in your house, besides people, are purified. All their negative karma is purified and if they die, not only people, even insects, when they die they don’t get reborn in the lower realms. I will send this to keep in your room and also another photo, Buddha Amoghapasha. All the benefits are there in English, so if you can keep that in the house where people can see it, in the dining room or somewhere, where many people can see it, then everyone can benefit. I want to explain this to you here.
I will stop here, from bothering you! Thank you very, very much. If you have questions, anything, please write.
With much love and prayers ...