My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you very much your kind email.
Sometime ago a student wrote that her brother was always in trouble with the local mafia, he was being asked to give money to them and even the house got taken away. Everything had been taken away from him, so the student was always very worried, if not about herself, then about her relatives, because there were so many problems.
When she asked what pujas and prayers she could do to prevent them be killed etc., I told her that this is not the first time we have experienced this. We have experienced oceans of suffering in each realm from beginningless rebirths, again and again, not only as a human being. If we don’t practice Dharma in this life, if we don’t look after and take care of the mind, then it doesn't allow the mind to become Dharma, and especially if we don't generate bodhicitta, then again we have to suffer without end in samsara.
This present suffering is nothing, and the problems of her relatives are nothing compared to all that. This is the essence of what I told her and what I want to also pass on to you. The point is that it is so important to practice Dharma, to actualize the path, to realize emptiness.
We need to achieve the five Mahayana paths—the Mahayana path of merit, the path of preparation, the right-seeing path, the path of meditation and the path of no more learning. The second path, the path of preparation, has four stages: heat, tip, patience and sublime Dharma.
Until we achieve the third stage [of the path of preparation], patience, we can be reborn in the lower realms, but after we achieve patience we get confidence, and we won’t be reborn in the lower realms. Not only do we realize emptiness but we directly perceive emptiness, so that ceases the delusion and karma; we become free from delusion and karma, and free from the oceans of samsara’s sufferings forever. So [in order to attain] the blissful state of peace, forever, even if we don’t achieve enlightenment in this life, the most important thing in our whole life is to practice Dharma.
My idea, and what I have been talking about for the last few years, is for people to please do the morning motivation, The Method to Transform a Suffering Life into Happiness (Including Enlightenment). You must do this practice. This is how to bring your life into Dharma, transforming the life from kaka into gold, so it not only becomes Dharma but [you are creating] the cause of happiness by practicing bodhicitta. Then everything becomes the cause of enlightenment, whatever you do.
Then if there is time, if you are able to give time—I know you have children, so it's difficult to have much time—even if it is late at night or early morning, if you can, read lamrim. Do the practice, Method to Transform, then read lamrim, even if it’s just a little, even just a few pages, it doesn’t matter.
It’s most worthwhile to read the lamrim, then it is easier to understand, so if you can read a lamrim text from the beginning to the end, do that one time. If you can, read Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. That is main one, but it doesn't mean you can't read other lamrim texts. You can read others, like A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life.
Another thing is to pray to Tara if you can. There is one Tara prayer, The Crying Child’s Tormented Calling, which I just translated, and also if you can, recite Praise to the Twenty-One Taras. [You can find links to these prayers in the FPMT Catalogue.] If you can, do this for all the success, including achieving enlightenment for sentient beings.
With much love and prayers,
P.S. I will pray for you. Take it easy, being in samsara is like this, but still, this is nothing, the problems can be hundreds and thousands of times more. You are still so lucky in the world; so many people have many more problems than you do.
Thank you very much. If you have some things from time to time to tell me, then you can write. I hope your children are OK. Thank you very much.