There is no certainty that we will not fall victim to disease, evil forces and so on. If we are afflicted by serious illness, we should think, ‘There are countless beings in this world suffering in the same way as I.’ In this way, we should generate strong feelings of compassion. If, for example, we are struck by heart disease, we should think, ‘Wherever space pervades, there are beings suffering like this,’ and imagine that all their illnesses are concentrated in our own hearts.
If we are struck by evil forces, we should think, ‘By making me suffer, these evil beings are helping me to practice Bodhicitta; they are of great importance for my progress on the path, and rather than being expelled, they should be thanked.’ We should be as grateful to them as we are towards our teachers.
Again, if we see others in trouble, although we cannot immediately take their suffering upon ourselves, we should make the wish to be able to relieve them from their misfortunes. Prayers like this will bear fruit eventually. Again, if others have very strong afflictive emotions, we should think, ‘May all their emotions be concentrated in me.’ With fervent conviction, we should persist in thinking like this until we have some sign or feeling that we have been able to take upon ourselves the suffering and emotions of others. This might take the form of an increase in our own emotions or the actual experience of the suffering and pain of others.
This is how to bring hardships onto the path in order to free ourselves from hopes and fears – hopes, for instance, that we will not get ill, or fears that we might do so. They will thus be pacified in the equal taste of happiness and suffering. Eventually, through the power of Bodhicitta, we will reach the point where we are free even from the hope of accomplishing Bodhicitta and the fear of not doing so.
If you bind a crooked tree to a large wooden stake, it will eventually grow straight. Up to now, our minds have always been crooked, thinking how we might trick and mislead people, but this practice will make our minds straight and true.From Enlightened Courage, by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Copyright 1993 by Editions Padmakara