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Using Illness To Train The Mind by Kesang Gyatso, VII Dalai Lama (1708-1757)

"Whenever a physical illness arises, we usually multiply our suffering by worrying and by pressing mental anxiety on top of it.  One should understand that the human body is a composite of elements and agents that constantly are struggling with one another. When these elements and agents fall into disharmony or when external factors such as the many types of evil powers are affected, the various diseases naturally arise with intensity and for long period of time. Therefore one might as well face up to the fact that during the course of one's life a certain amount of disease is inevitable. 

When one does fall painfully ill, one should not be concerned with one's own situation. Instead consider the inconceivable sufferings of the hell denizens, the hungry ghosts, animals and so forth whose anguish is infinitely greater than one's own. Ask yourself, "If they must bear such immense pain, how can I not bear this suffering which by comparison is small? If I am so weakened by my suffering, how must they feel who anguish is so much greater? May their afflictions be alleviated by this illness of mine." 

Thinking in this way, visualize that you are surrounded by all sentient beings experiencing every type of suffering. As you inhale, visualize that all their negativities and obscurations, sickness and pain ripen upon you, freeing them from all misery, and as you exhale, visualize all good things going to them in the form of white nectar giving them happiness. Repeat this process again and again. 

As the benefits of this contemplation surpass the effects of any virtuous actions, any illness should be seen as an excellent opportunity to practice Dharma. Think, "Even if I never recover, I can continue to practice the meditation of taking others' suffering upon myself and giving others peace -- a powerful practice unsurpassed by all. Therefore I am perfectly happy to lie here with this illness." 

If you can practice this advice from the depth of your heart, there is no doubt that you will be benefited in both this and future lives, hence keep it in mind. "

Also, as Lama Namse said (Montreal, Nov. 2005,) "Pain and deprivation can remove any karma that might cause one to be reborn in the hell or ghost realms.  This thought can also help us deal with discomfort."

Yongey Mingyur Dorje Rinpoche

After speaking at the 25th Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya, India (December 2007), Yongey Mingyur Dorje Rinpoche gave these helpful suggestions to his students from France, who posted them online :

                                                     . . . especially for those of us who got
the "blessings of Bodhgaya, " meaning we got sick with a cold /flu. I gave them special instructions how to use the "Blessings of Bodhgaya", the climate, and the dust, etc.  as a support for meditation.

There are three methods:

The first one is Shamatha. You can intensely feel the sensation of pain, fever, displeasing sensations as if they were solid, but if you look at them more closely, they don't have any identity whatsoever;  they can be divided into small parts.

You might be aware of the sensations, the aches and pains,  upset stomach and so on, and use them as a support for mindfulness because the principle of meditation is to apply mindfulness.

You don't need to stop thoughts and emotions.  For if you [try to] stop emotions your meditation will be artificial; that's not good.

You should develop mindfulness. Your mind becomes clear, open, flexible and fresh. Thus you attain self liberation.

The second method concerns compassion and loving kindness: "I am sick
and I will take away all the pain from other beings because they are [just] like me -- they wish to be happy. We do not want to suffer, we are [all] like brothers and sisters.

I take [on] all the suffering of sentient beings mixed with my suffering or my problem.

[Thinking,] "May they be free of all suffering",  thus your sickness or problem
makes more sense.

The third method has to do with Emptiness. Look at the essence of the sickness, which is beyond concepts and suffering.  Stay in that state . . .  You won't feel any pain for a couple of seconds…  But then it comes back again.

Face the pain again.  {Keep repeating the process.] In that way it becomes a support for your meditation on Emptiness.  Then there is no problem, no
meditation, everything is OK.

If you have problems, incorporate them into your meditation practise. Then they will become less severe and you will be happier.

Thank you for visiting  (See

I pray for all those who visit and for those who are connected with me.  I also pray for all beings and especially for peace in the world.

                ~ Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Institut Tergar, on 14/01/2008 [edited from the French]

Mental Illness

Can Meditation or other spiritual activities lead to mental illness?  Very rarely, students who experiment with extra-ordinary practices exhibit unusual symptoms.  If you are experiencing problems, stop doing whatever it is that brings on the symptoms and consult your teacher. 


Caregivers, family and friends of a dying person may need a way to come to terms with their despond, loss and perhaps, feelings of being no longer of any use .


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