Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book
|Practices for HIV and AIDS|
|Advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche for people with HIV or AIDS.|
It comes out very good for anyone who is HIV positive or who has AIDS to:
These practices can even be done by people who are not Buddhist. This is just something to try. Doing these practices is an incredible purification that can purify the karma and help the disease go away.
Doing these practices purifies the mind, so that our past negative karma is purified and we collect extensive merits.
It is best is to do these practices with bodhicitta, and to do them for numberless sentient beings who have the same sickness—not only for those who are sick, but for the numberless sentient beings who are suffering in the six realms and the intermediate state.
|HIV and Dharma Practice|
|Rinpoche gave the following advice to a student with HIV who had given the illness to someone else. Now that person was sick, and the student asked if it was more beneficial for him to care for the person or to study a five-year Buddhist Philosophy program.|
My very dear Jack,
I checked and what came out best is to stay and study at Nalanda, taking care of your father and helping in those other ways. Regarding caring for your friend, you can do that in different ways, by talking on the phone, etc. Most important is to support him in the best way, which will really help from life to life, through Dharma imprints.
It’s a very good to plan to do Vajrasattva retreat when you can. There's some advice I gave to other people that you should listen to. This advice is for everyone, but I think it would be very good if you listen to it.
Generally you should do these practices:
- One Guru Yoga practice a day (Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga, or Guru Puja)
- Prostrations to the 35 Buddhas
- Vajrasattva at night (21 or 28 mantras)
- King of Prayers
Then, read the lam-rim. Begin with Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, and spend one month on each topic. For one month mainly focus on guru devotion, then spend one month on the perfect human rebirth, one month on the difficulties of finding it again, etc. Like this, go through each subject of the lam-rim; you can use the outline that is in the back of Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. When you finish, start from the beginning again. It doesn’t mean this is the only thing that you meditate on, it’s just your main focus for that month. Also, you don’t have to do all the meditation sitting down; it can be while you are at work or are walking. The main thing is to relate the lam-rim to your own life. The point is to have realizations of the lam-rim, so keep circling like this until you have stable realizations.
The best thing for your illness is to do bodhicitta meditation—exchanging yourself for others– and emptiness meditation. Use your HIV to achieve enlightenment quickly and to be able to liberate the oceans of suffering sentient beings in the six realms, to bring them to enlightenment. Then, look at your HIV as emptiness, by thinking of it as a subtle dependent arising, merely imputed by your mind. Meditate on it with emptiness, not as existing from its own side, but merely imputed by your mind. HIV doesn’t exist from its own side, it is only imputed by your mind and you label HIV on that. In this way, make it useful: to help you get out of samsara as quickly as possible and achieve enlightenment. Use your HIV to be free forever from samsara, from all the sufferings. This is the most important thing, and this is how to use HIV to help you.
HIV is given to you basically from attachment; it comes from desire and the self-cherishing thought, from ignorance, which is the root of samsara—holding the I as truly existent. Doing lam-rim practice and meditation is the best antidote, the best medicine for this. The rest of the world uses HIV to suffer and worry, but that is just creating the cause of samsara and the lower realms. Here, you are using it to be free forever from suffering and the lower realms, and to achieve liberation and enlightenment.
The next best thing you can do is tong-len. Wow, this is the best thing, the benefit that you gain every second that you think “I am experiencing this suffering on behalf of all sentient beings, who are limitless.” You create seven times limitless skies of merit each time you think this–not just once, because you are thinking of numberless sentient beings in each realm. This is an extremely quick way to achieve enlightenment, to get out of samsara, to have all the realizations, to purify all the defilements, even the subtle defilements. So, HIV becomes like a wish-fulfilling jewel.
I already spoke about this one night during the teachings here, so it would be good if you get that transcript and read it. It is about how you can use sickness as a means to attain enlightenment. I was using a stanza from the Wheel of Sharp Weapons. This is how a sickness such as HIV is so powerful, most wishfulfilling, like having skies of wish-granting jewels. In fact, their value is nothing compared to having HIV, which makes you have compassion for all others who also have it and who will experience it in the future. It’s incredible how the disease is bringing you to enlightenment. Think that it is giving you all the realizations to renounce samsara and have unbelievable compassion for sentient beings, especially those who also have HIV. Even a wish-granting jewel doesn’t help to cease the sufferings of all sentient beings and purify numberless eons of negative karma.
Each time you practice tong-len—taking on the suffering of sentient beings—you collect seven times limitless skies of merit. This is like a jet or rocket taking you to the moon. This is your rocket taking you to enlightenment. Your HIV is your rocket to enlightenment. Wow!
Thank you very much for your service to the center, to the teachings of Buddha, and to me, and for your kind heart.
With much love and prayers...
|Rinpoche gave the following advice to student who wrote saying he had HIV and asking what practices he could do to stop the virus.|
My very dear James,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. Sorry for the long delay in replying. According to my observations, these are the practices that come out very good for your health:
1) Chenrezig meditation and reciting 700,000 Om Mani Padme Hum mantras, visualizing beams of nectar emanating from Chenrezig, entering your body and mind, purifying all your sickness. Think that all your sickness leaves you in the form of pus and blood, any harms from spirits come out in the form of snakes and scorpions, then the cause of your sickness—which is negative karma and defilement—comes out in the form of dirty liquid. With strong faith visualize in this way. After each mala think that you are completely purified. Then, again perform the visualization.
2) Eight Medicine Buddha pujas—you can ask the Lama Gyupas to this do at Kopan Monastery.
3) Take the eight Mahayana precepts as much as you can, if possible, at least nine days each month. First, you need to receive the lineage of this practice from a lama. This practice makes your life very pure. Morality is very important for healing.
4) Practice the Healing Buddha practice (there is a small booklet of this).
5) Recite at least one mala a day of Medicine Buddha mantra.
6) Recite Medicine Buddha's name mantra. This is very important not only for healing but fulfilling all your wishes.
7) Recite Buddha Amitayus long life mantra, at least seven mantras a day (long mantra). This is very powerful for your long life and also to purify negative karma and defilements.
These practices are not only to stop this life’s disease but are also for purification, which is very very important. The disease is the result of negative karma, so it is very important to purify negative karma collected not only in this life, but in past lives from beginningless time. All kinds of seeds have been planted, and when conditions come together then they grow. It is like plants—when the conditions of soil and water come together, then the plant grows. We have so many various karmas imprinted on our mental continuum, good karma and negative karma, mostly negative karma, planted and imprinted on our mind. As they ripen, then we experience the result, such as HIV, as well as so many other problems. In this life, you have not experienced all the imprints that you have planted in your mind in the past.
Because we want happiness and do not want suffering, we must purify the cause of suffering that we have created from beginningless rebirths. This can only be purified by Dharma practice, by purification practices. Therefore, these practices are so essential in one’s life, the most important thing, not only for this life’s happiness but for future lives’ happiness and ultimate happiness, total liberation from all the sufferings and their causes, and great liberation—full enlightenment.
When death comes even one’s body disintegrates but one’s consciousness doesn’t, it continues (not like when the wax ends then the candle flame stops). One’s consciousness always migrates and there are only two ways to migrate:
1) To the lower realms as a hell being, hungry ghost, or animal. The hell realms have the most unbearable suffering, which does not compare to any suffering experienced in the human realm. Even the heaviest suffering that is experienced in the human realm is incredible peace and joy compared to the suffering in the hell realms, hungry ghost, and animal realms.
2) To the upper realms as a human being, sura being, or asura being. To be born in any of these realms comes from good karma. All happiness comes from good karma. Liberation from samsara, ultimate liberation, and enlightenment all come from good karma, even being able to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to enlightenment—this all comes from good karma.
So, where one reincarnates after death depends on karma. Practice every day to abandon the cause of suffering and to practice the cause of happiness. By this, one achieves happiness—temporary happiness and especially ultimate happiness.
Taking the eight Mahayana precepts is the key practice for changing one’s life to become better and better and have the best life—full enlightenment.
So, please do the practices as I have mentioned, otherwise my advice to you is wasted.
I have a student who completely recovered from HIV by doing Dharma practice. Some of it was preliminary practices and some of it was practice specifically for AIDS. She also took some Tibetan medicine. By following this she completely recovered.
There was another student who had AIDS, and he received instructions from his guru, a very high lama in Dharamsala. The lama gave him some advice about doing bodhicitta practice, taking other sentient beings' sufferings and giving one's happiness and merit to others. This is a very important bodhicitta practice of renouncing oneself and cherishing others.
The student did this practice for four days. Then he went to the hospital and they could not find the AIDS any more. This was the same hospital that had diagnosed him as having AIDS, and it was only for four days that he had done the practice. I asked him how long he had practiced each time and he said that he had practiced for only a few minutes. But what happened was, even though the duration of his sessions was so short, his compassion was unbelievably strong. Every time he did this meditation, huge tears fell. It made him cry just thinking about others' suffering. During this time, he did not have one single thought of his own suffering; his only concern was for others. Because his compassion for others was so strong, this purified so much of his negative karma, including the cause for AIDS. That's why after four days the doctors could not find AIDS any more.
I would like to tell you some heart advice. You have to realize that without HIV it doesn’t mean you will live forever anyway. Of course you know that, you are very intelligent, but I am just reminding you for meditation. There is a very important meditation in Buddhism called meditation on the nature of life, impermanence, and death. By meditating on this, you are able to free yourself from negative emotional minds, anger, dissatisfaction, ignorance, anger, and desire, which is actually where all the problems and suffering in one’s life come from, as well as all the sufferings and problems in future lives and since beginningless rebirths. This is also where all the sufferings in the hell realm come from, as well as all the sufferings in the preta realm, animal realm, and human realm.
This life is very short, you never know when you will die, there are many more conditions for death than for life. There are so many ways death can happen, not only in wars and danger from the elements, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, but also things that are normally conditions for life can cause death, such as medicine and shelter. Even things that are meant for happiness can become the cause of death. Life is full of conditions for death, so considering this, it is totally amazing that we are still alive and have still survived.
So many people who are the same age as us, born on the same day, have already died a long time ago. Of course, some may have achieved a good rebirth, but mostly they have already been reborn in the hell, hungry ghost, or animal realms. It is not easy to be reborn as a human being (a happy migratory being). The cause to be reborn as a happy migratory being is having lived a pure life, with morality. If one does not practice morality, then one won’t achieve a body of a happy migratory being or a happy rebirth, or as a human in the southern continent (there are other continents with humans). It is only in the southern continent that one can meet the Dharma and have the opportunity to practice Dharma, to complete the realizations and achieve full enlightenment.
So, it is only in this human body, in this continent, that you can do this. Now you can see how precious it is. We don’t have much time left to practice, already we are adults, already more than half our life we have been sleeping, so there is not much time to practice. You can see now that this is an emergency. We only have this opportunity now to practice. The main practice to make our life better, the most important one, is to practice a good heart, loving kindness, compassion, the thought of benefiting others, and living one’s life with that thought, having a good heart for every living being, and doing work to free them from suffering and bring them to happiness—not just temporary happiness but ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, and full enlightenment. So, you can see there is no choice, we must practice Dharma now.
With much love and prayers...
Cured of AIDS
In 2003, a 39 year-old Moroccan woman living in Spain was admitted to hospital with AIDS-related pneumonia and vomiting during a month-long retreat at Vajrayogini Institute in France. She had contracted HIV as a 17-year-old heroin user, but the virus had lain dormant until 1996, when she began to have bouts of pneumonia. She was treated with multiple-drug therapy, having to take 20 tablets a day, but her condition deteriorated to the point where she had a T-cell count of zero. She stopped the drug therapy after several years, because she felt that it was too strong for her body.
When she wrote to Rinpoche from the hospital requesting his advice as to what practices she should do, Rinpoche wrote her the following letter.
My dear Lina,
Thank you for very much for your kind letter.
It came out good to take Tibetan medicine: Tchen la, three pills a day for eight weeks; Rinchen Tang juz chen-mo, two pills a week for nine weeks. You should also take a herb called herma from Solu Khumbu in Nepal. You grind it into a powder and mix it with butter. You can spread it on bread like jam and eat it three times a day. You can also put herma in soup. Herma is very good for AIDS.
You should also recite the Padmasambhava mantra. Visualize Padmasambhava in front of you: nectar flows from his heart and enters your body and mind, it purifies all diseases, harm from spirits, negative karmas, and defilements. Perform a strong visualization and think that the AIDS is gone. With the last mala, think that you receive all the perfect qualities of Padmasambhava, especially perfect wisdom, compassion, and power. You should recite at least four malas a day.
You should also perform Medicine Buddha practice. Use the sadhana from the small booklet, the one where you visualize the deities on your crown.
You should also perform the White Tara long life meditation. There is a short sadhana from Pabongka Rinpoche.
Your everyday practice, whether you have AIDS or not, is to practice Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga, to have realizations of the lam-rim.
With much love and prayers...
Rinpoche also sent her a practice sheet, advising her to perform the following practices (with the added advice, “Don’t panic, this is for life.”): 40,000 Vajrasattva mantras; 100,000 water bowl offerings; 100,000 migtsema recitations; 50 recitations of the Diamond Cutter Sutra; lam-rim meditation; and deity practices.
Lina took the Tibetan medicine and used the herma for two months, mixing it into juice. She also recited the Diamond Cutter Sutra 50 times and began daily practices of offering 100 water bowls, reciting four malas of the Padmasambhava mantra, reciting Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga and migtsemas, and lam-rim meditation. After beginning these practices, she had several powerful dreams of Rinpoche, all indicating that she was being guided and healed.
Six months later, when she went to her doctor for a checkup, the HIV virus was not detectable, and her T-cell count was 300. Her doctor said that she no longer needed to take any medicine.
When she wrote to Rinpoche to inform him of her recovery, Rinpoche wrote her the following letter.
My very dear Lina,
Thank you very much for you kind letter and gifts. I am extremely happy to hear that your AIDS is completely gone. That is extremely good, because human life is so precious and you only achieved this human rebirth through pure moral conduct in the past, that is the cause. So, now you have this precious human life, which is unbelievable, much more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel. It is like a dream, a miracle—such a precious human rebirth qualified with ten richnesses and eight freedoms, so that you can practice Dharma whenever you wish. You can practice the Lesser Vehicle path to achieve liberation from samsara; the Paramitayana path to achieve everlasting happiness, freedom forever from samsara; the Bodhisattva path, which enables one to achieve full enlightenment and to enlighten numberless sentient beings and liberate them from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to enlightenment; and then the Tantric path, which allows you to help others to achieve enlightenment more quickly. So, this is most important reason to have a long life and precious human rebirth. Now, every day, you can plant the seed of the whole path to enlightenment; that is the reason for having a long life—it gives you the opportunity to actualize the path, or at least to leave imprints in your mind of the whole path to enlightenment. This will create the causes for you to achieve enlightenment, so that you can benefit others and bring them to enlightenment.
So, now you must spend the rest of your life practicing Dharma. Any time that you want to write please do.
With much love and prayers...
[One year later, she remained healthy.]