Wednesday, 20 July 2016

How to heal our illnesses

Garchen Rinpoche was in Singapore recently. I would visit and pay my respect to him whenever he is here and he is a teacher who never fails to make me cry with his overwhelming compassion and kindness.

Garchen Rinpoche describes how the self-grasping mind is like an ice block of our mind, and it is by cultivating love or bodhichitta that we melt this ice block. Once this ice block melts, it becomes one with the ocean of Buddha mind. So by cultivating love and developing bodhicitta, we can actualize our own enlightened mind. We are left not with a mere intellectual understanding of love and compassion, but with a profound inner experience of what love and compassion can actually feel like.

May Garchen Rinpoche live long.

I would also like to share this teaching given by him when he was healing, blessing and praying for the sick. I find this teaching precious and meaningful for us to know, as some Dharma friends have been asking me to blog whenever they see me.  I have been missing from blogging these couple of years and I thought my blog is dead with no visitors, but as i checked this morning, the statistics still show I have at least 8,000 visits per month. So thank you very much, my readers. 

The below teaching is kindly transcribed and shared by a dharma sister Ling Lee (thank you!). It is a little lengthy but it is worth a read and I hope it is useful to you.

Receiving blessings from Garchen Rinpoche
It is said that if you wish to know what you did in previous lives, then look at your body in this life. So in previous lives if we have engaged in actions even with the slightest negative emotion, and now the result of that in this life we experience illness and pain. Or as a result of having spoken negative words, now we experience illnesses of the mind and so on. So, in brief it is because we have engaged in negative actions in past lives now as a result we experience sickness and various types of sufferings. 

And then there are two types of people who are sick : there are those who can be helped through medical treatments and so on..... and then there are others who no matter what one does they cannot be cured. So it is very good to understand the difference between them.

It is said that the causes are negative karma, misdeeds and obscurities ..... what are those karmas and how have we accumulated them ? The Buddha has said do not commit any wrong and with that he meant "Do not commit any of the ten non virtuous actions of the body, speech and mind. Three of the body which is killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. And there is fourth of the speech which is telling lies, slander, idle talk and harsh words. And then there is three of the mind, which is covetousness, harmful thoughts and wrong views. And those three of the minds they basically refer to the emotions of attachment, of hatred and ignorance. 

So as a result of a predominance of any one of them, one takes birth as a child of a certain parent in a certain body. And so in this body they experience different types of illnesses. The three classifications are the imbalance of the wind, of the bile and also phlegm related illnesses. And those three also relates to the three afflictive emotions. And so the wind imbalances relates to attachment .. imbalances related to bile relates to hatred and anger .. and imbalances of the phlegm relates to ignorance. Milarepa was once asked whose emanation are you? And he responded, I am the emanation of the three poisons or the 3 afflictive emotions.

Although we have obtained a human body we still experience various kinds of suffering, because we have created the various causes of suffering in our past lives. However that is something we learn during our refuge vows that we can become protected. And so that does not mean that we can become protected from suffering right now. So if you already experience illness right now, often we cannot immediately become cured from that. And because we have already created the causes so that is why the Buddha said do not commit any wrong and that is do not cause any harm to others. 

So as a result of having caused harm to others, you will experience difficulties in this life. For example as a result of having stolen or taken the wealth of others, we experience the suffering of hunger and thirst and poverty and so on.And as a result of sexual misconduct, you will take birth as an inferior form, even not a human being. Or as a human being then with frequent illnesses and so on. And as a result of having killed, you experience a short life span and so on. So all of these different kinds of suffering come from a certain cause. 

So as a result of having beaten and abused and hurt others, as a result now we experience sickness. If we have stolen or robbed or taken from others then as a result of that we now experience poverty. So during the refuge vows, what we learn is that if we prevent the causes then we will also prevent the suffering. There are some people who in their entire lives do not experience any illness at all and also they are happy in their lives . And that is because if the cause is absent then the result will also not ripen. But if the cause has been created then we cannot prevent the cause from ripening and now in this life we are bound to experience suffering. However there are some who however they do suffer from illness somehow they can be protected. And that is because in the past life they have taken the refuge vow but they have also done negative things and actions. But having done that they regret and felt this was wrong and have confessed in their past lives. And so not all their karma has been purified, a great deal of it has been purified. And so there are some karma left and as a result of that you are now sick but because you have confessed, if something happens, it will protect you or a medical treatment that will cure you. Or if you are poor, some benefactors will come and help you. And that is because you have confessed in your past lives. 

So even if you experience suffering now, if there is a way out then, it is a sign that you have confessed negative actions in a past life. And that is really due to the kindness of having received the refuge vows. So there are some illnesses that no matter what we do, it cannot be cured. That is because in our past lives, we have created a cause for this and have not confessed. For example there are leaders of countries who are protected by bodyguards but still they are assassinated. And then there are the generals of the Second and Third World Wars that have survived the wars and are still alive. And that is also due to karma. So if it is your karma to be killed then even with the countries' security protection and bodyguards can't protect you and you will still be killed. That is the karma created from past lives. 

In terms of illnesses that cannot be cured or treated, in the dharma it also actually says that you should try to cure the illness through medical treatments once or twice. But after a number of treatments, one still cannot be cured and one makes up one’s mind that it is one’s karma to leave this life. 

The Buddha has taught two skillful means to be protected and beneficial in that time. First of all we have to try to undergo treatments and cures for our illnesses but then if we are unable to do so, then first of all we should regard the illness as an encouragement to practice virtue. 

So it inspires us to begin to practice virtue. And then the special quality of the Buddha Dharma is actually to view suffering in a different light that is we actually accept and tolerate our suffering. We see it as a beneficial thing. For example some people think that the hell realm is so negative and terrible. But actually in the hell realm, we are purifying our negative karma and obscurations. So in that sense, the experience in hell realm becomes just like a surgery or a medical treatment... which in the end is also a good thing. So in the same way our illness ultimately also is a good thing because it purifies what is necessary to be purified; that is our obscurations. And the Buddha also said that a single headache purifies the negative karma of thousands of eons in the lower realms. 

And also Milarepa said that if you have an hour of illness in our precious human body, then that purifies our obscurations in the hell realms for thousands of eons. And that actually is a good thing .. and therefore rejoice . In our purification, it also often happens to people who are sick, they enter the dharma and they hear dharma teachings and take refuge vows and so on. And so even though they might not be cured right away this lifetime, they are creating the causes for freedom of illnesses for all future lifetimes. So in this sense actually you begin to change your way of viewing the illnesses and you rather view it as a beneficial and necessary thing. And then also actually various practices are held at centers like this one to help the sick such as mantra recitations .. and especially it is because of love that we really help others who are suffering . And because love really is the antidote to all suffering . And so for example it helps those who have passed away and also those who are alive. The lamas will recite mantras for example and they blow onto an object or the sick person and bless them and they give out various blessed objects and substances and so on to help those who are alive and also practices for those who have passed away. When people cannot be cured or pass away, their mind will never die but the mind follows the karma accumulated. So therefore even though they have died, because their mind have not died, we can actually benefit them and cultivate love and various practices for them. So for example, various skillful means for instance for eating, we give blessing pills, and verbally we recite mantras like the mani mantra and so on. And also there are different objects to wear like liberation bracelets and so on also protects one when one is alive and also protect one from more illnesses arising in the future. So these are all various means that we can employ to heal our illnesses. 

So as a means to cure our illnesses we rely on various medical treatments and there are also various substances that can help someone even if there's nothing to be done like blessed mani pills or other blessing pills. Often people have been cured from incurable illnesses after taking mani pills or blessing pills for an extended period of time. So that is if you really understand this can really benefit. And the power comes actually from the meditation of the deity yoga and mantra recitations that these pills are blessed with. 

So for this reason it is not the amount but even if you just take a small amount of the blessing pill for example the size of a mustard seed... placing it under your tongue and do that every day for an extended amount of time.. then only even such a small amount actually if you really have faith in it , it is sufficient to cure your illness. That is because they have been blessed by the visualization of the deity and the mantra recitation. And so for this reason, methods like visualising a deity for instance can help one become cured of an illness. So therefore, for example if you visualize the deity or an image of a thangka or statue, for example if a sick person looks at a thangka or an image of a deity, and then that diety appears in their mind, that can really help cure their illness. Because when their mind goes to the thangka or goes out to that image their mind actually goes out and converges into space and leaves the sick body. And so you are not focused on the illness in your body ; you will in a way forget about the illness. That is actually my own experience I actually had a lot of bad illness before and that really helped myself . The lamas in the past have said when your mind goes outside, then you won't feel the pain of the illness. And only when the mind comes back then you begin to think again I have so much pain and it will just get worse. 

So therefore it is really beneficial to meditate on the form of the deity and the mind actually goes there to the form of the deity. And then the second thing is mantra recitations that is also very beneficial to cure the illness. And even with regard to that, science will also agree to a great extent. For example it is said that if you recite mantras through the movement of your mouth as you recite the mantra , that actually also cures illnesses related to the stomach and phlegm related illnesses. But when you recite the mantras you should not slur it and you should actually move your tongue and say it out very clearly, well pronounced and in the right speed. So you should not just focus on the numbers of recitations but also the quality of your recitation. 

For example if you clearly pronounce each of the syllables of Om Mani Padme Hung, and when you actually do that, you are tightening your body and tightening your muscles and that repeated moment actually helps stomach related illness and various other illnesses. So this is how the visualization of the deity and the mantra recitation also helps your illness. And most importantly, your consciousness goes out away from the illness. It goes out to a different object which is the deity or the mantra recitation. Otherwise often it is the case that even though we might not have an illness, for example your doctor might tell you that you have an illness even though you don't have it and you think you have it and because you keep thinking you have an illness, then 100% sure you are creating an illness with that kind of thinking. Because ultimately the illness is created by the mind and that is because first of all where the mind goes , that is where the wind energy goes. And where the wind goes that is where the blood goes and that is where it forms an illness. 

So in this way, even though we are healthy in the beginning but with our thinking and grasping, we are creating illnesses that haven't been there before or we are making our illnesses even worse. For example if you don't cling to the illness and don't even think about it, it goes away naturally by not grasping on it. It is just like your hair or finger nails growing out or clouds vanishing. But if you keep thinking about it, the thinking process is what makes you hold on to and clinging on to the illness. So the illness gets worse and worse. So that is why it is very beneficial if you as a sick person visualize the deity and recite the mantra.... and really direct your mind towards that. So in that way you actually forget about the illness and then another method is also to cultivate an altruistic mind, the practice or tonglen (giving and taking). So when you think that I have this terrible illness and I am in so much pain , then you are creating and reinforcing your self grasping mind more and more. And in that way you are increasing your illness and it will only get worse. But if you forget about yourself and rather think about others , then at least half of your mind is already won and half of your illness will slowly disappear. 

For example you think "May I represent all sentient beings .. may I experience this sickness instead of all other sentient beings." So in this way altruism defeats self grasping and that surely will be of great benefit. And the illness will get lighter and lighter. So if you apply these methods definitely they will be of great benefit. And these methods can be applied even though we are told often that the medical treatment actually cannot cure us. 

Garchen Rinpoche, 5 July 2016, Singapore.


  1. Hi..good to see a posting from you! Hope everything is well with you!


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