Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychosis

Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychosis

Date of Advice:
November 2021
Date Posted:
October 2022

A student wrote that her son had sustained a traumatic brain injury and had developed psychosis and obsessive behavior. Her relationship with her son was difficult, however, he had a connection with the Dharma and with Rinpoche. The student also supported people with death and dying. Rinpoche advised that helping others brings true success and happiness.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you for your letter.

According to my observation for your son, the following should be done:

  • Three Drugchuma pujas, to be done by three Kopan monks.
  • Rinpoche’s attendant should recite a few mantras of the Lankavatara Sutra for three days. This is for your son’s health.

My advice is that you should have a talk with him using logic and proof to show what he thinks is wrong, and not just saying blah, blah, blah. This is to show the logic, to prove what is wrong in his thinking. Tell him the purpose of his life is to benefit others, to not harm and to benefit others. His life is to not harm and to benefit others, that is the essence of Dharma.

For that, the Buddha has taught the Lesser Vehicle teachings of Hinayana, and the Mahayana Vehicle teachings of sutra and the Mahayana Vehicle teachings of tantra. There are sentient beings who have different levels of mind, so just one teaching doesn’t fit everybody. They have different levels of mind and then they can slowly go better and better, like that. This is very important.

In the world, people suffer, having no food, no means of living, no house, no medicine. There is so much suffering. Also, being in a place where there is so much war, contagious diseases, so much danger to the life, sicknesses, viruses, all those things. This comes about because we have harmed others in the past.

As it says in The Wheel of Sharp Weapons, karma turned against us, hence we suffer. So that’s how it is. By harming others there’s a shortage of means of living and there are so many people dying with no food, no water, like that, because in the past they created the cause to experience the result of miserliness now. They had things in the past, but were unable to make charity to others, to make good karma; they were unable to do that due to miserliness, even though they couldn’t use [the material things] by themselves.

So we must abandon those actions. All those people are suffering in the world due to their miserliness and attachment in the past.

All those people who have plenty, it’s the result of charity in the past. Without miserliness they have the thought of giving to others, charity to others, of helping others, so as a result their good karma is plenty of food, plenty of harvest, everything. There is plenty of medicine, plenty of everything. There are people in the world like that, you must know that.

Lama Atisha, who went to Indonesia to receive teachings for twelve years, completed Buddhism and bodhicitta from his guru Lama Serlingpa, then he went back to India. He was already a famous pandit in his knowledge of Dharma and so he left India and was invited in Tibet. When the Buddhadharma had degenerated in Tibet, he was invited there to revive it.

So he was invited to Tibet and wrote the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, and after he wrote this, all the wrong concepts of sutra and tantra—for example if you practice sutra you can’t practice tantra or if you practice tantra you can’t practice sutra—so a lot of wrong concepts about tantra were all eliminated by writing the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. Within just some number of pages were all the teachings of the Buddha, the different levels for one person to achieve enlightenment, the gradual practice, so nothing was there that was not needed.

Lama Atisha had 157 gurus, and there was one called Dharmarakshita, who said that when we feel unbearable pain in the body, this is due to having given harm to the transmigrating beings, the other sentient beings, to their bodies. So the wheel of sharp weapons of karma turned on us, so that is what happens.

Now the solution, what to do, is to take every single suffering on ourselves and on our self-cherishing thought, that which gave harm from beginningless rebirth, also now and in the future; that’s who gave harm to all the sentient beings, numberless sentient beings in the past, also in the present and the future, and made them suffer.

This is the greatest enemy, so we take it on that self-cherishing and eliminate that, destroying that completely. This is an incredible practice. We utilize the problem, utilize the suffering, the problem, the obstacle, the sickness, on the path to enlightenment, to actualize bodhicitta, and to achieve enlightenment, also we use it for all sentient beings to achieve enlightenment. This is incredible, incredible.

We can even use the suffering of death on the path to enlightenment; even when we’re dying we can do a similar thing. We can use this similar thing for sickness, for old age, death, any problem we can do like this. Wow, wow, wow, wow. It’s like the sky is dark with no stars, no moon, foggy, then the sun shines and eliminates all the darkness, like that.

So please explain this with logic, not just with blah, blah, but proving that your son’s concepts are totally wrong.

Thank you very much. Thank you very much for helping the people at death time transform their minds into positive. So similarly, you can do as I explained here also for those near death. Thank you very, very much. If you have other questions, please write. And thank you so much for being a student for twenty years.

I want to add this advice for your son.

With a good heart, if we think to give happiness to others and stop their suffering, bringing them happiness, if we think like this, then even if we don’t think about karma, by using the example of ourselves, how we don’t need or want suffering, we need happiness, it’s so important, and as it is for ourselves, we can use that as an example for others. 

So when someone helps us, of course we are so happy, of course, that’s good karma. Helping someone just one time, bringing them happiness, has so much benefit in this life and all our wishes succeed, and especially, even more in the next life and the next life, then more and more, and we reach enlightenment at the end.

In so many lifetimes our wishes get fulfilled and other people help us, like that, more and more. So in the future, [we become] like Indra and Brahma, the gods that the Hindus worship who have incredible power and wealth, then ultimately we achieve enlightenment.

If we help others it brings true success, it naturally brings happiness to ourselves and others. Without doing that, our actions that bring happiness to others also naturally give happiness to oneself. So it’s incredible.

So concerning cherishing oneself, the great bodhisattva Shantideva said, and this is similar to what the Buddha taught, if we don’t exchange oneself for others, then enlightenment, buddhahood, cannot be achieved. There’s no happiness even in samsara, leave aside happiness in future lives, and even the works of this life cannot succeed.

For example, the servant doesn’t do work for us, what we like, doesn’t do what we say, then the leaders, the bosses don’t give us money. They give us a job, but they don’t give us money, like that, so even the works of this life cannot succeed. So our self-cherishing thought becomes the obstacle. If we study, if we check, this is what we’ll find.

Please, you should tell your son that I said this, and that he was just ten years old when he met me and now I’m sending him this message. So, please tell him what I have said.

With much love and prayers ...