The Abbey sent this teaching to all our friends via the monthly emailed eTeaching. Sign up here for the mailing list.


Understanding and Transforming Difficulties


Good Karma


Ven. Thubten Chodron 

Shambhala Publications

Verse 9

When my body falls prey to unbearable illnesses
It is the weapon of destructive karma returning on me

For injuring the bodies of others;
From now on I will take all sickness upon myself.

In situations such as illness, we can either get angry and depressed, or we can transform the situation into the path to awakening by thinking, “This is the weapon of destructive karma returning on me, so I’m not going to blame anybody else. I’m going to learn from this mistake. Since I don’t like illness, I must stop creating the cause.” We make the firm intention not to injure anybody else’s body ever again.

To purify destructive karma we may have created through injuring others’ bodies and to prevent harming them in the future, we do the taking-and-giving meditation. Since this verse has to do with experiencing illness, with compassion we imagine taking on the sickness of others and using it to destroy the ignorance and self-centeredness that lie behind having harmed others’ bodies in the past.

Breathing in the pollution that represents their suffering, we think it transforms into a lightning bolt that strikes and demolishes the lump of ignorance and self-preoccupation at our heart. We tranquilly dwell in the empty space at our hearts, relishing that others are free from their illness and we are free from our ignorance and self-centeredness.

Then we imagine transforming our body and possessions into medicine, hospitals, health-care professionals, loving companions, and whatever else those suffering from illness may need or find comforting. Giving these to them, we imagine them healing and living happily.

Giving them our merit, we think they have all the necessary causes to meet and practice the Dharma. Through this they progress on the path and attain full awakening. Imagining this, we feel satisfied and peaceful.