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...