Teacher's Encouragement For the Unwell Ones
How long have you been sick? It must be tough? I applaud your continuous determination and courage in enduring the pains and struggles. Are you feeling down? You can tell me in your heart. Even though I am not by your side at the hospital, my heart is listening to you and with you. I know it is very miserable. I know! Because of this suffering, the more we have to sincerely seek refuge from our Teachers and the Triple Gems!
Do you have the appetite to eat? Has the taste of food changed? May be all the food tasted bitter, sour or your taste bud may be already numbed. And you feel very miserable at the sight of food and do not feel like eating. Are you very hungry? You should be feeling feeble without having any food? Feeling feeble, lying on the bed as if all your strength has been drained off, beaten up and severely injured by the suffering of the sickness. (I know you are) Looking forward very much to standing up and take a walk under the sun, and even hope to be able to go for a stroll and jog. Those who can walk normally seems to be of extravagance and what an enjoyable kind of blissfulness they are having!
When you are bounded to the bed, staring blankly into the space, and could not stand up to walk, sincerely, from the depths of your heart, seek refuge from the Triple Gems by reciting the names of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. Create a wide path in your heart and use steps of virtuous thoughts to walk on it. Use your pure and clear thoughts to feel the great compassionate rays of the Triple Gems. Use these great compassionate rays to comfort yourself. Feel the tremendous deep comforting strength generated from each and every thought in seeking the refuge. Can you do it? If you can, persevere to do it and please believe that you will be able to calm down gradually, gradually overcome the anxiety within you, that has developed from being bound to the bed for a long time and not able to go outdoors. While you are going through this manifold of suffering of sickness, please recite and visualise the Triple Gems, the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas. Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva has the quality of finding prayers of seeking to be freed from suffering. When we earnestly recite in our heart, “I seek refuge in the Great Merciful and Compassionate Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, I seek refuge in the Great Merciful and Compassionate Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva …”, he will know it, and come to accompany and guide us. You will not be alone and will be saved!
Every day you do not have the appetite to eat but still have to take injections, go through various treatments. It must be unbearable! When you cannot bear with it anymore, stop and think for a while, “If enduring these sufferings can let my mothers in limitless lives gain happiness, can I help all my mothers in limitless lives gain happiness by letting all the suffering of cyclic existence be contained in this body of mine?” If able to follow this thought of letting the suffering of all sentient beings fall upon and be borne by me, especially my mothers in limitless lives can gain happiness from this, the pain, the endurance and the misery that I am going through now will then be very worthwhile. In order to save the mother, of course the children will be willing to bear it. If these manifolds of suffering of ours can dissipate all the sufferings in the three miserable realms, what an amazingly happy thing this would be.
In every single moment of unbearable suffering, it is as if wings are developed to flee from this prison of suffering to the vast emptiness. When our thought soars freely to the altruistic universe of wanting to benefit others, although having suffering and happiness simultaneously, is the mental suffering the same as the physical suffering? It does not necessarily be the case! Can this possibly be cultivated? Give it a try. Be sure to give it a try!
Do you fear that your loved ones will despise you? Being very sick for a long period, you fear that your caregivers are mentally and physically exhausted, and finding it intolerable. You fear that you will be abandoned, looked down, neglected and even secretly thinking, “Perhaps my loved ones are hoping that I will die sooner.” Do refrain from continuing to have such fear and loneliness! Do not lose hope! Isn’t it more painful to have this anxiety while being confined in bed? Rather, when such anxiety arises, sincerely take refuge in the Triple Gems and seek support from the Triple Gems in your heart. The Triple Gems will never abandon us. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas had already attained the non-retrogressive great loving-kindness and compassion. They had also made strong vows of not abandoning sentient beings in suffering and have been honouring this pledge for immeasurable eons without any violation. As such, why would Buddha abandon you, the one who is struggling and suffering? Thus, when you feel that your loved ones soon cannot be depended on because they may either have fallen ill out of exhaustion or they may be at a loss – please recite the Buddha’s name earnestly. Do not abandon Buddha and the Bodhisattvas!
The body can lose its strength but your mind cannot afford to collapse! Having a stabilized mind during sickness is still the objective. If you are able to communicate, you can still console your caregivers so that they will not be saddened and lose hope. Tell them, “I still can, I’m still good, I’m still reciting “Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva”（观世音菩萨, guan shi yin pu sa）. However, if you are unable to communicate anymore, use your eyes to smile, use your eyes to communicate and use your eyes to encourage them. If this is not possible, you can still recite this mantra in your heart, “I seek refuge in the Great Merciful and Compassionate Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva” (南无大慈大悲救苦救难观世音菩萨), nan mo da ci da bei jiu ku jiu nan guan shi yin pu sa) for all your loved ones and sentient beings. Not only will you be able to practice and amass the collection of merits, but also be able to purify the negative karma. Even though you are confined in bed, you are not doing any lesser than a healthy person! Why is this so? Since a healthy person does not have such compelling suffering, the mind is unstable, and wasting the human life. Yet, in your case, if you do not develop the correct mindfulness of your suffering every single moment, it would engulf you completely. Hence, this kind of battle is so persevering and glorious! It unfolds in your vulnerable suffering body, and in your beautiful and kind heart, (I) salute you! To the sick practitioners confined in bed: Though you are heavily beaten by sickness, you are still battling on like a warrior. Thus, praising your struggles with fresh flowers and songs, can you feel that I am proud of you?