Letters from Teachers to Students
My very dear Jonathon,
I hope you are better. Please use the experience to achieve enlightenment quickly by using it to develop bodhicitta and compassion for other mother sentient beings and, as you have been doing, by practicing tong-len. Sometimes, think that this is the Guru Buddha’s blessing to purify me. Sometimes use it to meditate on emptiness.
With much love and prayers...
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
I received your letter. The method to eliminate your lung will be to recognise your self-cherishing and reduce it. Then you will be able to eliminate your problems, and feel relaxed.
You should practise this continually without doubts. You should read the book Transform Your Life - 'Learning to Cherish Others' -again and again, and put it into practice sincerely.
With love and prayers,
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
My Dear Venerable Holy Michael,
the only one in the world,Great to hear from you after such a long time, that you are existing in human form in this world and being a great monk. Great! Great! Your body is so precious being a monk. It is like a relic. You are as holy as the number of vows in which you are living. I understand about the lung. Lung comes up when one is bored and tired of doing prayers. When one sees the prayer book, lung comes. Things that are difficult and things that we don’t like bring lung. I don’t think that the things you really enjoy bring lung. Do you agree? Sometimes when you put a lot of energy into something, suddenly the energy changes and then you change, you give up. For example, there was a monk who worked really hard for a very long time with computers, even through the night, and then it suddenly changed, and he couldn’t do that work any more. The energy just changed. So, in this case, it’s something that you get bored with and don’t like, and this will give you lung. Psychologically, the antidote is to accept it. Whenever you encounter problems, rather than being unhappy and suffering, accept it as a result of past karma, then it becomes no longer a problem, or much less. Especially, think of the benefits of the problem. The basis for accepting the problem is thinking of its benefits. By experiencing it, it enables you to finish past negative karma. Kadampa Geshe Karab Gomchung said even a small suffering in the present finishes very heavy past negative karmas, which make us be reborn in the lower realms, hell realms, and experience suffering for many eons. Then, you will have a happy life in the future.
Therefore, one should meditate, rejoicing in having suffering and problems. Then, of course, as you know from thought transformation practices, use your problem to practice bodhicitta, for taking and giving practice—taking all sentient beings’ suffering in the form of pollution through the nostrils, into the heart, destroying the ego, the self-cherishing thought, completely, so there’s nothing left. Meditate on the “I” to be refuted, the object of ignorance. Do more taking. Do this a few times. Then, at other times, think: “I’m experiencing this for all sentient beings.” Whenever lung comes, think like that. Whenever you are able to think like that, you collect so much merit and the body becomes like a wish-granting jewel. With this body, with each taking and giving, when you experience suffering for others, many eons of negative karma are purified. And each time you become closer to enlightenment. Of course, this is the best practice, as you know.
Other suggestions of very mundane methods: it would be good to use the lung incense made by the Tibetan medical centers and doctors. Also, apply Tiger Balm to the body. Also, you can use the Tibetan medicine, Akara-soga 35 (for life wind sicknesses).
It would be very good for you to stay in the monastery. You could stay for eons!
With love and prayers...
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Thank you very much for your letter, albeit a sad report concerning your mental state and your lung in particular.
Sometimes we need to take solace not in the immediate effects of our Dharma practice, in your case shifting your lung, but in the definite beneficial effects it will bring in the future in terms of the kind of rebirth we will take at the end of this life, and in our countless future lives, and the kind of experience we will have of those lives. If the Dharma or the Spiritual Guide who teaches us Dharma is unable to shift our present symptoms it is because of the relentlessness of karma, but we should be confident that experiencing this karma patiently we are releasing ourselves from similar experiences and experiences far worse than these in the future, especially in our future lives.
Bearing these points in mind, even though you are suffering from seemingly immovable condition of lung, you can be sure that in practicing virtue to the best of your ability in every way that you can, and maintaining your commitments, and especially with the mother of all virtue which is patient acceptance, you are creating the karma not to experience these problems in the future.
I hope very much to see you at the retreat centre in the near future. In the meanwhile stick closely to your centre, your Guru and the Dharma and you can't go wrong.
With very much love and prayers,