My very dear Ani,
So sorry to hear that you just went to the hospital. I don’t know how long ago you got sick and then you had breathing difficulties. It seems the important thing is to not become panicked.
I just want to tell you—I don’t know whether you can recite this—there is a long-life mantra of Buddha Amitayus. This particular long-life mantra has most unbelievable, most unbelievable benefits. So, this mantra I am going to read for you now. It has most unbelievable benefits, but I don’t know whether you can recite mantras or not. If you can, then please recite this mantra.
There is Buddha Amitayus mantra, the normal one that everybody recites, then there is this long one. Some of it is the same but some of it is different, so I will recite this for you. You can think that from Buddha Amitayus—in the same aspect as Buddha Amitabha, holding a long-life vase in the hand—from the long-life vase, long-life nectar is coming, healing the disease. It comes into your body, like pouring milk from one container to another container. So visualize that and think that it heals all the sicknesses, viruses and other diseases, spirit harm, negative karma and defilements collected since beginningless lives.
Rinpoche recites the mantra:
NAMO RATNA TRA YAYA / OM NAMO BHAGAVATE …
Recite this as much as you can. It has unbelievable benefits.
Just recently in China, one person read my books, Dharma books and did tonglen meditation—taking others’ sufferings and the cause of suffering into our own heart for other sentient beings, for numberless sentient beings, for them to achieve enlightenment. That part is compassion, then there is loving kindness—giving our own virtues and happiness of the past, present and future, making charity to sentient beings of our body and possessions, giving the merits and enjoyments to numberless sentient beings, to every sentient being, tonglen. So this Chinese student read my books and did this by thinking of me. He did tonglen practice and he totally recovered from the COVID-19.
In recent times, in Singapore, Fred, who was a commander for so many years in the army, now of course some years ago he became a monk, because his wife had died suddenly. So I told him to become a monk and then he became a monk. Now he is in Solu Khumbu, at Rolwaling, very far away, where I lived for seven years. He is staying in Padmasambhava’s cave. Last time he was there, he asked whether he should stay there to do retreat in Padmasambhava’s cave. It is a wonderful cave in the shape of Padmasambhava’s hat and if you do incense puja, clean the place, then nectar comes from the middle of the inside of the cave, from the rock, from the ceiling, where there is a mark that looks like wax. From there comes holy water, nectar, even while around it is completely dry. When I was very small I went there, but I did not see the nectar. The man who took me there did not do incense puja, and normally nectar comes after somebody cleans the place and does incense puja. Some time ago, last year or the year before, Fred told me that somebody in the army had cancer and he told him to do tonglen practice. He saw that person recently and he had completely recovered from cancer.
Then there is a Swiss man, an old student who took a lot of pictures in the old times, who lives in Mongolia. He was here a few years ago and his blood pressure was very high. So he asked me and I told him to do tonglen practice. He told me that every time he did tonglen his blood pressure went down, like that.
Another girl here in Nepal had high blood pressure and went to many hospitals but did not recover. This happened while I was in America or somewhere. I was told about her by a Kopan monk and then I told her to take some Tibetan medicine and also to do tonglen practice. She did that and only then her blood pressure went down.
In Tibet they have boats made from animal skin, and one time there were so many people that there was danger that they would drown. Then two men with good hearts wanted to jump in the river so that the boat made of animal skin would not sink. When they jumped from the boat into the river, clouds the color of rainbows appeared, which is an incredible sign about the power of good heart.
Normally I don’t have bodhicitta, that realization, I am not a good practitioner and I am not practicing, but whenever I have pain in my eye, even though I don’t actually do the practice, the thought came to my mind to maybe do tonglen—not really doing it, but just the thought, not strong, just the thought comes, and even that eliminates the pain. The pain goes away.
Or sometimes the stomach, I think cancer, even thinking [about tonglen], not actually doing the practice, even that helps. That is just small example.
In the past, in Tibet, the great meditator Kadampa Geshe Chekawa had been praying to die and get reborn in hell and suffer for the sake of numberless sentient beings, to free them from the hell suffering and instead to experience the hell suffering himself. So he had been praying like that all his life, but the day he was dying, that did not happen. He did not have a vision of hell and instead, around him a vision of the pure land happened. So then he told his attendant monk, “I did not succeed in my prayers.” At the time of death he was reborn in a pure land even though his prayers every day were to be reborn in hell to take the suffering for the sake of numberless sentient beings and to free numberless sentient beings from the hell realms and for them to achieve enlightenment. So that is the power of the good heart, bodhicitta.
Anyway, all sentient beings, people in the world, are born under the power of delusion and karma. We are samsaric beings and we have to go through the suffering of death, the suffering of rebirth, old age and death. Then, besides that, all the samsaric pleasures are the suffering of change and that is why they cannot continue. Only Dharma happiness can be completed and we can become free from samsara and achieve enlightenment. Not only that [suffering of change], there is also the third type of suffering, pervasive compounding suffering. While true suffering arises, we are also under the control of pervasive compounding suffering, which is where delusion and karma come from; these contaminated aggregates, which are from the seeds of delusion and karma. From the seeds [of delusion and karma] suffering arises again; delusion arises again in this life and future lives.
Sentient beings like Shakyamuni Buddha and numberless other beings actualized the four noble truths—true suffering, the true cause of suffering, the true cessation of suffering and the true path, the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness. Once we actualize that, we become free. We don’t have to suffer in samsara; we are able to cease the seeds of delusion and we become totally free from the oceans of samsaric suffering forever. Not just for a few months or a few years or a lifetime, not like that.
Yes, Buddhism has the complete path to become free from death, rebirth and all these sufferings. Otherwise, we have to go through death and all these sufferings. Until we actualize the true path, the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, we have to go through death. Nobody who is a samsaric being, under the control of delusion and karma, does not experience death. There is nobody who lives in this world, in samsara, who does not experience death. Nobody experiences birth without death, nobody. We have to die anyway, not only because of this [COVID-19] virus.
Even living conditions, like food or shelter, can become the cause of death. Many people die when their house collapses or burns by fire, and they die like that. Even living conditions, like the side effects of medicine, can become the cause of death, beside other causes of death. We have to accept that. Death is just a question of time, and we have to go through that for a while, until we actualize the path.
It is said in the seven points of thought transformation by Kadampa Geshe Chekawa that all sentient beings’ sufferings come from creating negative karma; all the many sufferings. Sorry, I have to look at the text to get a proper translation, but this is the essence. All the suffering we have is the result of nonvirtue in the past, the complete action of nonvirtue, then the four suffering results ripen to us as rebirth in the lower realms.
Then we are reborn in the human realm due to another virtue, such as morality, and we experience the three types of suffering there. A result of our negative karma is the possessed result of the place, so the devas or nagas in the place where we are living all disturb us and become harmful, deceitful, doing so much harm to the people. Then the black side develops, like wanting to harm others and not liking Dharma; these powers develop due to negative karma. There is so much disease, also new diseases which did not happen before, and famine, fighting in wars and quarrels.
There are many obstacles when the place is filled with the worst negative karma. In such times we have to transform all the obstacles into the path to enlightenment. Then all this becomes Dharma practice. We can utilize all the obstacles as supporting conditions. All the obstacles, all the hindrances we realize as supporting conditions and all the harm-givers we utilize as the virtuous friend, as the guru. So we utilize miserable, unfavorable conditions as the path to enlightenment.
One great pandit said that when we are happy, we dedicate the happiness to sentient beings. To collect merit we dedicate the happiness to sentient beings. When we have happiness, we dedicate it to all sentient beings, then we collect skies of merits. In each realm—the hell realm, hungry ghost realm, animal realm, human realm, asura and sura realm—there are numberless sentient beings, so we collect skies of merit when we give our happiness to sentient beings. We collect most unbelievable, unbelievable merits.
Think, “May the happiness here fill up whole sky. May every sentient being in the six realms receive skies of happiness, temporary and ultimate, including peerless happiness and enlightenment. May they receive all that happiness.” You can do this in an elaborate way, with your body, your possessions and all the three-time merits, so you make charity of that, giving it to every sentient being.
And if you are suffering, then you take the suffering of all sentient beings onto yourself. Take it into your heart, where there is the self-cherishing thought, believing the real I is most precious, more precious than all the buddhas, the Dharma and all the numberless sentient beings. This most precious real I does not exist. That does not mean the I does not exist; it means the real I does not exist, but you cherish that most.
So you take all the sentient beings’ sufferings and give it to the [self-cherishing thought] and it is destroyed. It is totally destroyed, so it becomes nonexistent. Even the real I, the object of ignorance, the root of samsara, the root of every sentient being’s suffering in samsara, becomes totally nonexistent. Then stay in that emptiness a little bit, as much as you can.
Then, by generating loving kindness, again do the practice of giving to others.
Take into your heart the suffering and cause of suffering of all the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, suras and asuras, intermediate state beings, all that, in the form of darkness, black smoke. Like the Americans, when they fight in Iraq, they send bullets or missiles from so far away and they totally focus on the army place, then that place is blown up in one second. Like that, the self-cherishing thought is totally destroyed.
What did not lead us to enlightenment from beginningless time, from beginningless rebirths in samsara; what denied us even temporary happiness then, now and even in the future; what has been our worst enemy, is totally destroyed. What gives us the virus is the self-cherishing thought, and it is completely destroyed. Think like that. This means we experience the virus, but the attitude should be that we experience the virus for the sake of numberless sentient beings.
It is so important, as we ourselves want happiness and don’t want suffering. So we cherish that I, from which comes all the suffering that we experience—from the past, since beginningless time up to now, and into the future. And from cherishing others comes all the happiness. All the numberless happiness from past rebirths up to now and into the future including enlightenment, everything comes from others, from the most kind, most precious, most dear, wish-fulfilling others.
So if we suffer, then we can take on all the suffering of all the others into our heart. One lama said, “May the oceans of suffering of each sentient being be removed.” That means their suffering becomes nonexistent. Think, “May the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, suras, asuras and intermediate state beings be free from suffering.”
You can recite this like OM MANI PADME HUM. Repeat this over and over.
It is also sometimes good to do according to a very high Kagyu Lama, an unbelievably precious, great, great lama. His advice is that for any unfavorable condition we have, for example, this virus, think:
By my experiencing this [sickness], may all sentient beings be free from all sicknesses, not only the virus.
His Holiness also mentions the spirit harm condition, which comes from negative karma and obscurations collected from beginningless rebirths. Then we can achieve enlightenment.
You can recite this prayer like reciting OM MANI PADME HUM and then sometimes you can change to this and recite it on and on. This way it transforms your experience of the virus, utilizing it on the path to enlightenment, for you to achieve enlightenment, so you can free numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings. And not only that, you can then bring everyone to the peerless happiness, the total cessation of obscurations and completion of realizations, enlightenment. When you do that, you are using your illness for all sentient beings to achieve enlightenment in that way. That is the most amazing, real Dharma practice. Wow, wow.
We have to die anyway. It can happen anytime and there are so many conditions, not only this virus. We have to die, whether there is a virus or whether there is no virus. As I said, even living conditions can become the cause of death. So here, we are utilizing even death on the path to enlightenment, in order to achieve peerless happiness, to achieve the infinite qualities of the holy body, holy speech and holy mind of the Buddha. By achieving that we can do perfect work benefiting all sentient beings. Do you understand? It’s incredible!
We can use the illness for numberless sentient beings to be free from sufferings, to be free from the suffering of death, from all sufferings. It’s incredible, incredible, incredible. This is a good way, so do this practice.
It is said by Kadampa Geshe Kamlungpa, the great, great meditator,
If we experience a small suffering in the present, it purifies our past heavy negative karma, therefore in the future there will be happiness.
That means due to practicing Dharma, reciting mantras, OM MANI PADME HUM etc., benefiting others with a good heart, when we experience catastrophes, sicknesses, problems in this life, even small ones, that finishes our past negative karma. It ceases the negative karma created since beginningless rebirths. So what happens in the future is that there will be happiness like the sun shining—wow wow wow—life after life, then we go to enlightenment.
Therefore, we should rejoice in experiencing problems and sufferings now. Even experiencing this virus is the cause for happiness. Instead of disliking it and being unhappy, it makes us happy. The virus is just an example, but it applies to any problem, because of what happens in the future. That is how he gave advice on how to meditate to transform our suffering into happiness.
My root guru, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, said that suffering is the path to happiness, and without suffering there is no happiness. By realizing or discovering what suffering is, it joins us to realizations, it makes us achieve realizations.
Also a great, great Kagyu lama said that experiencing negative karma, suffering, various conditions, our own mind is the doer, so experiencing this causes us to finish the karma. Without purification, we end up in the suffering realms for eons and eons. By experiencing some problems in this life we do not have to be reborn in hell and experience suffering there for eons and eons. We don’t have to do that. As I mentioned before, there will be happiness. Then in this way our mind does not become the creator of suffering, but the creator of enlightenment.
If we suffer, whatever we experience is OK. If we experience happiness, we can utilize it on the path to enlightenment for all sentient beings. If we suffer, for example, through death or COVID-19 virus, we can utilize it on the path of enlightenment, for all sentient beings to achieve enlightenment, as I mentioned before, by doing tonglen practice.
That much is enough, as you also have difficulties. Thank you very much and I will pray for you.
With much love and prayers ...