- Recite Dükkar prayer (White Umbrella deity prayer) 100 times. You can do some recitations yourself.
- The Kopan monks can recite the White Umbrella prayer 100 times. They will be the main ones to recite for you.
- Gyetongpa (Prajnaparamita in 8,000 verses): To be recited once by the Kopan monks.
- Drugchuma: To be recited once by the Kopan monks, and nine times by monks at Serkong Dorje Chang’s monastery in Swayambhunath.
A student had been sick for three months due to Cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus. Their symptoms included a fever for the past eight weeks, feeling very tired and lacking energy.
Rinpoche composed this letter to the monasteries and nunneries who had sent messages and letters saying they were praying for Kopan Monastery and Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery in Nepal after they heard about the COVID-19 outbreak there. Rinpoche’s letter, which was written in Tibetan, thanked them and shared an update on the situation. Translated by Geshema Kelsang Wangmo.
On behalf of Kopan Monastery (Pal Ogmin Jangchub Choling) and Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery, I, Thubten Zopa, would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the members of the different monasteries and nunneries who showed great concern and offered their prayers when they learned that several of the monks at Kopan and the nuns at Khachoe Ghakyil Ling had tested positive for COVID-19. These well-wishers belong to institutions that uphold the precious and sacred teachings of the Buddha and are a source of happiness in the past, present, and future for us weary beings who have been drowning in the great ocean of samsaric suffering since beginningless time.
One hundred and seventy of the 460 monks at Kopan and ninety of the 370 nuns at Khachoe Ghakyil Ling tested positive for the virus. Geshe Lobsang Jinpa, who has been a philosophy teacher at Khachoe Ghakyil Ling for many years, fell ill. Suffering from breathing problems, he was hospitalized. The nuns recited prayers such as the White Umbrella for him, and for one month many captive animals were released once a week in the United States to aid in his speedy recovery. His symptoms eventually subsided, and he was able to return to the nunnery.
Former Kopan disciplinarian, Geshe Tsering Tashi, who completed the great approximation retreat of Yamantaka, also became ill. He had trouble breathing, was taken to the hospital, and has since recovered. A monk from Mongolia and a child monk who similarly suffered from breathing problems had to spend time in hospital but are now back at the monastery.
Animals were freed for the former disciplinarian, for our spiritual teachers, especially His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for all Indians, and so on. In total, six goats were liberated for the monks and nuns at Kopan and Khachoe Ghakyil Ling. The liberation of these animals benefited both the goats and the people who were sick, and just the thought that had the goats not been freed they would have been killed is unbearable.
The monks and nuns who tested positive remained in quarantine for eighteen days. One person who had first tested negative was later found to have contracted the virus.
As soon as people started to get ill, Kopan and Khachoe Ghakyil Ling tightened their rules and restricted the movement of their inhabitants. However, many caught COVID without ever leaving the monastic premises, while others did not become infected, although they had to spend time outside the premises to be of service to the two institutions. For instance, the manager of Kopan, Geshe Jangchub, took the monks and nuns who tested positive to the hospital, ran errands, etc.; the caretaker, Sonam Zangpo, regularly went shopping for food supplies; the doctor, Gen Sangye Tenzin, and his two monk assistants often attended to outside medical matters; Gen Tenpa Choden who is responsible for the advancement of Kopan, Khachoe Ghakyil Ling and their associated organizations, had to travel between the different institutions, and so forth—but none of them contracted the virus.
Unfortunately, Geshe Thubten Sherab, who teaches at the FPMT center in New Mexico, USA, and in several other FPMT centers around the world, fell ill with COVID. But he has now left the hospital and is recovering.
Gen Sangye Tenzin, who is in charge of the medical clinic that belongs to the monastery and the nunnery, and his two monk assistants have been taking care of everyone very well. Kyabje Sengdrag Rinpoche kindly donated his precious khyung nga pills that he had consecrated during a one-year retreat. He gave nine pills to each monk who was hospitalized and five to everyone who was not.
I myself, as well as Ven. Roger Kunsang, the chief executive officer (CEO) of FPMT, and my attendants Ngarampa Tendar, Topgye, and Sherab, who does the computer work, are all well. None of us have become infected.
However, although I have not become ill, I am not sure whether this is desirable or not. For example, the owner of a five-star hotel who is healthy, lives a long life, has numerous customers and earns a lot of money is likely to accumulate the karma of killing every day. If he owns a hotel by the sea, he is responsible for killing thousands of fish and other sea animals when he orders them to be caught to provide seafood for his guests. It is terrifying to think that after he breathes his last breath, he may be born into hellish existences for many eons to come. He similarly accumulates a lot of negative karma with regard to the other nonvirtues.
There are pure monks, on the other hand, who have no attachment to this life and pass away with a peaceful and joyous mind, even if they were sick their entire life, suffering from one illness after the other. They had accumulated negative karma in a previous existence that ripened in the present life in the form of diseases and other obstacles. This means that after their death, they might not be born in the lower realms but take rebirth in a pure realm and quickly attain the enlightened state of a buddha. The Kadampa Geshe Kharag Gomchung said:
Even by experiencing this small suffering now,
Through finishing past negative karma,
There will be happiness in the future.
So, we should rejoice when we suffer. Since we have accumulated the karma to experience disease, although we may not fall ill right now, this does not rule out getting sick in the future. Therefore, the Buddha said:
Do not commit any unwholesome actions.
Engage in perfect, wholesome actions.
Subdue one’s own mind.
This is the teaching of the Buddha.
Whether we study the scriptures extensively or not, we will definitely benefit from subduing our mind. I think this is an extremely comprehensive and profound advice. It is also what the glorious and unequaled Jowo Atisha taught.
In the Excellent Nectar Vase of the Essential Instructions of the Kadampa Volumes it says:
If we ourselves do not recognize it as our refuge,
Not even the strength of the buddhas and bodhisattvas
Will be able to save us from the abyss of the lower realms.
In the meantime, we should not deceive ourselves.
Whatever happiness and suffering exists in this samsaric place
Has all arisen from our karma.
So, we should examine our body, speech and mind at all times
And make an effort to abandon wrongdoing and practice virtue.
These words indicate that although there are countless buddhas and bodhisattvas, there are also countless sentient beings who have been drowning in the great ocean of samsaric suffering from beginningless time. But now we have encountered the teachings of the Mahayana as part of the Buddha’s precious teachings, which is as if the impossible had become possible.
These days, the monks at Kopan and the nuns at Khachoe Ghakyil Ling are reading the Golden Light Sutra and the Arya Dharani Sutra five times and reciting the Great Dharani and others from the Kangyur. They are all cheerful. May the monks and nuns in all the other monastic institutions also be cheerful.
In order to be of some benefit to others in accordance with the teachings of our lord of refuge and bright light, the Buddha, I focus on the entire world in general and on Dharamsala, Nepal, and so forth and perform the following rites: Incense Ritual by the Great Master Padmasambhava, (Nölsang; Wylie: mnol bsang), Purification Rite of the Four Directions (Sangsöl Chog Zhi; Wylie: bsang gsol phyogs bzhi), Cleansing Rite of the Four Directions (Thrü Söl Chog Zhi; Wylie: khrus gsol phyogs bzhi), Cleansing Rite of the Body (Ten Thrü; Wylie: rtren khrus), Cleansing Rite of the Place (Yul Thrü; Wylie: yul khrus), and Burning Food Ritual (Sur; Wylie: gsur).
Written by Thubten Zopa on behalf of Kopan Monastery and Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery on May 18, 2021.
Rinpoche sent this advice encouraging people at the Dharma center to offer aid to those affected by COVID-19 who need help with basic food, etc. Rinpoche gave examples of people who had recovered from cancer and other problems after practicing tonglen. This advice is excerpted from a long letter which you can read here.
When you have cancer or other problems, you can sincerely take other sentient beings’ cancer or problems and experience it for them, thinking that then they don’t have the problem. Normally when you do that, the problem goes away and you recover from your own cancer. It has happened many times.
Recently in China, one person who had cancer read my books and did tonglen, taking other sentient beings’ suffering, and he recovered from cancer. In Singapore, a student’s wife had suddenly died and he became a monk. I asked him to become a monk. Somebody got cancer and he asked that person to sincerely practice tonglen, taking the sentient beings’ suffering, nonvirtue and causes of suffering, and giving them happiness. That person did the practice and recovered from cancer. There are more examples.
The next example is a little bit different. Someone who had a heart attack recovered by turning a prayer wheel and reciting OM MANI PADME HUM. There are quite a lot of stories like that. These things happened in recent times and they also happened in the past, thousands of years ago. I would just like to let you know these are by the power of bodhicitta. For example, when I have eye pain or stomach pain, my pain is not really cancer but sometimes I think it is. The minute I think to do tonglen—even if I’m not actually doing tonglen, but just having the thought to do tonglen—then the pain stops. That is the power of bodhicitta. It is not that I have bodhicitta, but just the thought of it. I am not telling a lie.
It’s very good you didn’t get the virus and that you didn’t die yet. And also, the nuns who went [to help people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic] a few times, that’s very, very good. I really want the Buddhist monks and nuns to go there, to give charity of food, so then it leaves a positive imprint in the minds of those very poor people who have so much suffering. That positive imprint generates for them the aspiration to be a monk or nun, to renounce the householder’s life and to take vows.
It leaves an imprint on their mind to achieve enlightenment—to be free from samsara and to achieve enlightenment. It helps not only in this life, but from life to life. From that positive imprint, from life to life it helps them to become monk or nun and to meet Dharma. Wow, wow, wow. And then, from life to life—wow, wow, wow—for hundreds, thousands and millions of lives it brings them to enlightenment. That is why I asked the Buddhist monks and nuns to go there. I was very happy that the nuns went, and you went at least one time after I explained this. At least you did something. I was very, very happy about that.
With love and prayers ...
Note: Rinpoche continued with advice about resolving conflict at the Dharma center. Read this advice here.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, India was expecting the return of thousands of migrant workers from countries all over the world, in particular, from the Middle East. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Indian government had asked hotels and monasteries, which included some FPMT centers, to house these migrant workers for three weeks. Rinpoche sent this message to center staff, asking them to accept the government's request and allow people to be quarantined on their premises.
My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling gems,
The government wants those who come back from the West, from outside the country, to stay at hotels and monasteries, and wants to check how many rooms you have.
I think it is a good opportunity to serve sentient beings, the mother sentient beings, the kind mothers, who have been kind to us since beginningless rebirths. Not only that, from beginningless rebirths we have received every single happiness from every hell being, every preta, every animal, every human being, every sura being and every asura being. We receive all our past, present and future happiness, temporary and ultimate happiness, up to the peerless happiness of enlightenment, from them. We receive that future happiness from every sentient being who comes here to stay. Of course, (and this is extra), Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, who we take refuge in, come from sentient beings. So, they are most precious, most dear, most kind and wish-fulfilling for us.
It is said by the great Shantideva of Nalanda in the Bodhicaryavatara [Ch. 1, v. 112], “The sentient beings and the victorious ones, the buddhas, are similar because we can accomplish Buddhadharma from them.” As it comes from the kindness of the buddhas, in exactly the same way, it comes from sentient beings. And as I mentioned before, the Buddha comes from sentient beings. As we respect the Buddha, why not the sentient beings who have been most kind and wish-fulfilling to us? This time we have the opportunity to serve them.
Here is just one example. When we are born to a bird, however many eggs are laid, every day that bird looks for worms and insects, and even if they are not completely dead, she feeds them to her chicks. She feeds her chicks so many times each day. If the mother bird kills one worm or insect, then, by killing that one, for five hundred lifetimes the mother bird will get killed five hundred times. This is besides the karmic result of rebirth in a suffering realm. And even when it is reborn as a human being and receives a human body, there will be so much suffering. The results of that action are unbelievable, just from killing one worm. From that example, we can understand that since the mother bird kills so many worms and other forms of life for us, it is unbelievable karma. And it is not just experienced for one day, but for an unbelievable number of lifetimes.
Also, other sentient beings have been our mother numberless times in numberless life forms. Wow, wow, so many sentient beings have been our mother. Even just as a human being, they had so much suffering and created so much negative karma, like rainfall, to look after us. They suffered from beginningless rebirths and also in the future. They experience unbelievable suffering for us.
Normally we should think this way, and also in this coronavirus situation. As I mentioned before, it is good to recite Vajra Armor mantra and the long-life Buddha’s mantra. And besides that, His Holiness advised us to recite Tara’s mantra and, by doing so, we receive the blessings of His Holiness. It is also good to recite Thangtong Gyalpo’s prayer for blessings against disease, [The Vajra Speech of Mahasiddha Thangtong Gyalpo: The Blessed Prayer Known as “Liberating Sakya from Disease”] with refuge and to recite OM MANI PADME HUM for all sentient beings, and also Thangtong Gyalpo’s prayer to stop famine [The Speech of Mahasiddha Thangtong Gyalpo: A Request to Pacify the Fear of Famine.] You should also follow the other advices that have been given.
Do your best at the beginning to protect yourselves from the virus, but if you do get it, think, “If something can be fixed, what is the benefit of disliking it?” That means fixing it. “If you can’t fix it, what need is there to dislike it?” There is no need and no benefit in doing that, which means you should accept it. [See Bodhicaryavatara, Ch. 6, v. 10.]
Here, since we have been born under the control of karma and delusions, we are in samsara. If we are able to actualize true paths and true cessations—to realize emptiness and the cessation of suffering and achieve the state of an arya bodhisattva, in which there is no old age, sickness, and death—everything will be OK. If we can’t achieve that, we have to die. We can’t live in this world without going through death. There is no one in this world who won’t die. In our world even Buddha showed the aspect of passing away. Since even aryas don’t have to die, of course, Buddha didn’t have to die, but he showed us this aspect in order to show us the need to practice and how to practice in order to become enlightened.
Therefore, rather than experiencing death with anger and big delusions and then being reborn in the lower realms for eons and eons, which can happen, the best thing is to die for the numberless sentient beings, for every sentient being. So, take all the sentient beings’ viruses, sicknesses, defilements, negative karmas, obscurations, the suffering of death and its cause, negative karma and defilements, all those collected from beginningless rebirths, into your heart and destroy the enemy, the self-cherishing thought and grasping at the I as real, and let sentient beings become enlightened. So, you should do that.
To die for sentient beings is the best death. His Holiness says that dying for sentient beings is the best death. Only dying of the virus and not dying otherwise is foolish thinking; you are deceiving yourself. Dying with full awareness and thinking in the most positive way is the happiest death. We collect skies of merit every time we do this and it is the quickest way to achieve enlightenment. Like a warrior who runs toward the bullets however many guns there are, we are a warrior of bodhicitta, which destroys the self-cherishing thought, our enemy. This is the quickest way for us to achieve enlightenment, so we can quickly free all sentient beings from suffering and bring them to enlightenment.
So, letting go of I and cherishing others is an unbelievably fortunate practice. By letting go of the I, all happiness comes. By cherishing others, however much we have to suffer, however much pain we experience for sentient beings, it becomes the quickest way to free sentient beings from samsara and bring them to enlightenment.
Thank you very much. So here you can enjoy the virus, since you are going to use it in the best way.
With much love and prayers ...
In this advice, Rinpoche recommends Vajra Armor mantra and The Prayer Liberating Sakya from Disease as the main practices for protection and healing from coronavirus COVID-19. Rinpoche also advises that bodhicitta and tonglen are essential practices at this time. Read Rinpoche's previous advice about coronavirus here. See also the new FPMT webpage: Resources for the Coronavirus Pandemic.
My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
I don’t know if students are doing this: I told Chinese students in Mainland China that they must do Vajra Armor to not get the disease, coronavirus (COVID-19). If they get the disease, by doing this practice they will recover, otherwise they may die.
Many people became great healers by reciting the Vajra Armor mantra in the past. There is one lama who helped an American monk’s father, a long time ago, before we got the land for Maitreya Institute in Bodhgaya. The monk’s father had cancer and I think this lama did some puja for him and maybe he recovered. So this lama became famous as a healer after doing that, and he healed other people too.
When this lama, who was known as a great healer, went to Holland, there was Drepung Loseling geshe at our FPMT center there, who asked him what mantras he used to heal people. The lama said White Tara, but he didn’t mention exactly the mantra. Then the geshe asked him for White Tara initiation, which that lama then gave him. Later in my room in Bodhgaya, the lama told me that actually the main mantra that he uses is Vajra Armor.
There are many healers at Sera Monastery. I met one man who was the father of Lama Pasang’s disciple. He became a great healer and he healed many people. I don’t know who he is. It seems he didn’t know much Dharma and lamrim, but he became a great healer by reciting this mantra. This is what I have come to know, that there are many healers who use this mantra.
If you recite one mala of the Vajra Armor mantra a day it is so powerful to heal people, besides giving protection.
hum vajra phat / OM PÄDMA SHAWA RI PHAT / NÄN PAR SHIG / NAGA NÄN / TAD YA THA / SARVA BI RI TA / HANA HANA / VAJRE NA rAKSHA RAKSHA SVAHA
The other practice is a prayer by the great yogi Thangtong Gyalpo. In the past there was this contagious disease that happened amongst the Sakya [practitioners] and many people died, so he wrote The Vajra Speech of Mahasiddha Thangtong Gyalpo: The Blessed Prayer Known as “Liberating Sakya from Disease” and then all the Sakyas were healed from the disease. This amazing miracle happened. This prayer is good for oneself and also for China and other countries to not get diseases such as coronavirus, and to be healed if you have it. So this is good to recite to help, including for oneself.
The other practice is Black Manjushri but its OK if you mainly do these two things—Vajra Armor and The Prayer Liberating Sakya from Disease—unless you are doing Black Manjushri normally. It is very important to do these two practices, otherwise just reading this or just reading that, you are not doing much specifically for this disease.
Please tell the students at the centers, before they get too much suffering, before the disease comes to the centers and spreads to the centers. Please make an announcement. Tell the students, however you make announcements. Thank you very much.
If you get this disease, don’t worry. Anyway, without the disease we can die at any time. There are so many conditions and we can die at any time, even without the disease. Now with the disease, people come to know that we can die any time, just suddenly. This is what people who don’t know, who don’t think, who haven’t met the lamrim, who haven’t met Dharma, are afraid of. But as we are Dharma practitioners, we know about impermanence and death. We know we can die at any time—any day, any hour, any minute, any second. So, we have to think like that.
The essential idea is bodhicitta practice. If you get the disease, experience it on behalf of all sentient beings. Do tonglen, so then you die with tonglen, you die with bodhicitta. His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that this is the best way to die, with bodhicitta. So you die with tonglen, taking all the sufferings and their causes into your heart and destroying your mara, the self-cherishing thought, the ignorance holding the I.
Or at least you can recite this prayer by Choje Gotsangpa. He was a great Kagyu lama who didn’t like having a monastery or center or any group. He didn’t like that and he didn’t have that, so he went to other monasteries and groups of people; he went there but he never made a center or monastery himself. Anyway, he said:
By my experiencing this [disease]
May all sentient beings be free from disease and spirit harm,
May they be free from these conditions and their cause, created from beginningless rebirths—the negative karma and defilements.
May all beings be free from that and be totally pacified, and may they achieve enlightenment.
Recite this verse as if you are reciting OM MANI PADME HUM. Recite this verse in the same way you recite a mantra, reciting it as much as you can—for example, while you are walking—in the same way that Tibetans recite OM MANI PADME HUM. Probably Western people only recite mantras when they are sitting down, but Tibetan people recite them while walking or shopping. So you can recite prayers like that.
So do the meditation and the prayer that I just mentioned with bodhicitta, and make the best use of your death to achieve enlightenment quickly for sentient beings, so that sentient beings may achieve enlightenment quickly. You turn poison into medicine, into nectar, like that.
Thank you very much.
With much love and prayers ...
Rinpoche was asked what could be done for the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), which has now been declared a global health emergency. Rinpoche's initial advice included mantra recitation practice for individuals, as well as a puja at Sera Je Monastery. Rinpoche subsequently gave additional advice, which is also below. See also the new FPMT webpage: Resources for the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Rinpoche advised a Most Secret Hayagriva wrathful fire puja, to be done at Sera Je Monastery, India.
Individual students can do the following mantra recitation practice:
As a motivation before reciting the two mantras, Rinpoche said it’s best if people can do The Method to Transform a Suffering Life into Happiness (Including Enlightenment), which is the daily motivation Rinpoche has put together. That is best. But if that is too much, then do the lamrim motivation, which is the beginning part of The Method up to the “Blessing the Speech” section. So at least do that part as a motivation before reciting the mantras.
1. Vajra Armor
Recite Vajra Armor mantra, which is a famous mantra for healing. You can do the entire Vajra Armor Protection Wheel if you want. Otherwise, just recite the mantra:
hum vajra phat / OM PÄDMA SHAWA RI PHAT / NÄN PAR SHIG / NAGA NÄN / TAD YA THA / SARVA BI RI TA / HANA HANA / VAJRE NA RAKSHA RAKSHA SVAHA
After you finish reciting the mantra, hold your hand in front of your mouth and blow the air up, so it goes into your nostrils.
2. Black Manjushri
Also recite Black Manjushri mantra. The Meditation-Recitation of Black Manjushri is also good to do if you want. Otherwise, just recite the mantra:
OM TRA SO / CHHU SO / DUR TA SO / DUR MI SO / NYING GO LA CHHO / KHA LA JAH KAM SHAM TRAM / BÄ PHAT SVAHA
Then at the end, do dedication prayers:
JANG CHHUB SEM CHHOG RIN PO CHHE
May the precious supreme bodhichitta
MA KYE PA NAM KYE GYUR CHIG
Not yet born arise.
KYE PA NYAM PA ME PA YI
May that arisen not decline,
GONG NÄ GONG DU PHEL WAR SHOG
But increase more and more.
GE WA DI YI NYUR DU DAG
Due to this virtue, may I quickly
LA MA SANG GYÄ DRUB GYUR NÄ
Become a Guru-Buddha,
DRO WA CHIG KYANG MA LÜ PA
And lead all transmigratory beings,
DE YI SA LA GÖ PAR SHOG
Without exception, to that state.
Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me, the numberless buddhas, and the numberless sentient beings, may all wars, sickness, famine, torture, poverty, and economic problems in the world, and all dangers of earth, water, fire, and wind, be pacified immediately, and may perfect peace and happiness prevail in everyone’s hearts and lives. May the Buddhadharma last for a long time, and may the sentient beings in this world meet the Buddhadharma and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.
Due to all the past, present, and future merits collected by me and all the merits of the three times collected by the numberless buddhas and numberless sentient beings, which are completely empty of existing from their own side, may I, who am completely empty of existing from my own side, achieve the state of full enlightenment, which is completely empty of existing from its own side, and lead all sentient beings, who are completely empty of existing from their own side, to that state, which is completely empty of existing from its own side, by myself alone, who is completely empty of existing from my own side.
Rinpoche subsequently offered this additional advice for protection from coronavirus (COVID-19):
Rinpoche says that in addition to his earlier advice, people should also recite The Vajra Speech of Mahasiddha Thangtong Gyalpo: The Blessed Prayer Known as “Liberating Sakya from Disease”. The prayer comes from the great yogi Thangtong Gyalpo (1385–1464) and is for healing from disease.
While reciting this prayer, students should look at an image of Thangtong Gyalpo. [Click here to view an image of Thangtong Gyalpo from a thangka in Rinpoche’s house.]
Rinpoche added, “the previous mantras are to protect yourself and others, but this prayer from Thangtong Gyalpo is to heal the disease in China and for it not to spread out to other countries. So it is to protect the country. And anyone in the world can recite this prayer.”