My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. I made prayers for your mother also. I checked and yes, for you, retreat is best, and best is lamrim retreat. Even just studying and understanding intellectually, just that is extremely worthwhile. That takes many years, just that.
Having firm concentration so that even if big drums beat in front of our ears we don’t get distracted or achieving the five clairvoyances so we can fly—we have had those attainments numberless times in the past. We have had these powers numberless times in the past, but still we are not free from samsara.
It is renunciation that makes us achieve bodhicitta and we need bodhicitta to achieve enlightenment so as to enlighten all sentient beings, therefore now we also need to realize emptiness in order to be free from samsara forever and to be free from the root of samsara, ignorance. Of course, we achieve this with the support of bodhicitta, then we are able to cease the subtle defilements with the wisdom realizing the direct perception of emptiness. Then on top of that there is the tantric path, so this is what is important.
All those other powers are nothing; we have had them numberless times. People in the world are most surprised if someone is able to fly, but even the birds can fly, even the insects can fly, even bees can fly, so if someone has the five types of clairvoyance, such as firm contemplation etc., people are more surprised, but that person doesn’t know lamrim. Lamrim is the main thing and it is most important because if we had these lamrim realizations, by now we would not be in samsara, we would be enlightened already.
Whatever hardships we have to bear, it is extremely worthwhile, so worthwhile. We have died from beginningless rebirths in samsara and we have just created the cause of the lower realms—negative karma and the lower realms—but we have never died for Dharma, that is very rare.
Regarding retreat and part-time work, that is up to you.
One practice for you to do every day is the daily motivation, The Method to Transform a Suffering Life into Happiness (Including Enlightenment). That also has the blessing of the speech and daily mantras.
It is so important to meditate on the lamrim every day. This is very important. You could also recite one lamrim prayer every day. Read it slowly, going over the meaning. Lamrim is what you need to actualize, no matter how long it takes, so please put your effort there.
You should do your lamrim meditations during your guru yoga practice. Stop before the guru absorbs into you and meditate on whatever section of the lamrim you are up to.
One meditation that you must try to do every day is on guru devotion. Sometimes if you miss it, that’s OK, but then just continue. There is no question of how much time you take; it is up to you, what fits.
Then continue with whatever lamrim topic you are on, doing the meditation every day, going through the subjects slowly. Whatever meditation you did in the morning, then continue with that mind during the day, so that your mind is in lamrim all day.
Please try to meditate on the lamrim based on guru yoga and on this basis you will get all the realizations and the most success in your life. It is important to try to achieve all the realizations in order to actualize enlightenment—this is in order to liberate numberless sentient beings and enlighten them. That’s the real project, the real goal of our life.
What makes our life most meaningful is meditation on the lamrim, then to live our life with bodhicitta motivation. This is the best.
So here you are most welcome to enlightenment, to liberate the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to buddhahood, by actualizing the path yourself.
With much love and prayers ...