058: Sickness and Gratitude

My mother, who had been a diabetic for 20 years, was required to take medicine to stabilize her condition. Yet in May 2007, my mother’s condition suddenly worsened and we had to transfer her to an intensive care unit. With my mother in the hospital, I, too, coincidentally fell sick and was (this is something I am still ashamed of) therefore unable to take care of her.

Yet, in reality, what could I do to help my mother with her pain? I took the steps I could: I asked my elder sister, living in Yuanlin, to give my mother a nectar pill. I also asked that she told my mother that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were on hand to help her. At the time of my mother’s hospitalization, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was far away on a retreat in Nepal’s sacred Lapchi Mountains. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could not be reached, I instead went to the Glorious Jewel Jewelry Company, prostrated myself in front of his dharma photo, and made my offerings. As I prostrated, I prayed that my mother would receive the blessings of transferring her consciousness and enter the Pure Land when she eventually passed away.

On July 2nd, after returning home from prostrating at the Glorious Jewel Jewelry Company, I heard about my mother’s passing on. On the phone, my older sister told me that at the time of my mother’s death, her face was peaceful and looked healthier than she had looked since checking into the hospital. In fact, it looked as if my mother had only fallen into a deep, peaceful sleep. Three hours after my mother’s death, her body had turned cold, however the crown of her head was still warm. Her limbs, which, prior to her death, were extremely stiff, thus making it hard to change her clothing, became supple and flexible after her passing.

After her body was cremated, my younger brother and two nieces told my husband that my mother’s cranium was snow white and had a round hole about the size of a NT 10 dollar coin at its top. Taken together, these auspicious signs confirmed that my mother had obtained the Phowa. Yet Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was far, far away and never once did I speak to him about my mother’s condition. All I had done was prostrate in front of the dharma photo of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche at the Glorious Jewel Jewelry Company!

I am deeply grateful for the kindness of the Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and for the fact that I felt his great virtue and power. Not once did my mother ever meet Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche who was on a retreat far way. From these events, the great vow and attainment of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche can be seen to be truly remarkable, while its limits are difficult to envision. It is really unimaginable.

Along with deep gratitude came deep repentance. During the time Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was away on his retreat, I contracted a strange disease. Starting in May of 2007, my mouth began to feel stiff, as if was no longer under my control. My tongue started to jump around in my mouth and I began to drool uncontrollably. In my mouth appeared two large ulcers, which, due to the constant movement of my tongue, were constantly irritated and unable to heal.

At that time I went to visit a variety of doctors, but the doctors could only suppress the symptoms by heavy doses of medication. The drugs the doctors gave me had serious side effects—they made me close to helpless. All I could do was lie awake in bed at night, unable to live and unable to die.

For a while I could sleep one day; other day not. During those days that I was unable to sleep, I hoped the next day would come soon so I could find some relief. The nights when I was able to fall asleep were also filled with suffering, as I knew that when I woke up the next day, I would have to face the pain of my tongue probing the sores in my mouth. I was constantly anxious and my body and mind were in extreme pain. I wondered to myself whether I could just end it and die soon. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, however, rebuked me, saying that I had not learned repentance, nor was I willing to accept my karmic lot.

My mother’s side of the family has lived for many generations in Lugang, where my grandfather made his living by selling fishing equipment. It is a fact well known to us disciples (Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche enlightened it often) that making money by the taking of life of others will produce bad karma. Not surprisingly, my mother’s relatives all meet unfortunate circumstances. My grandfather died when he jumped off a train that had caught fire; the eldest uncle has been suffering from hypertension and arthritis for a long time and now needs to make periodic visits to the hospital, undergoing kidney dialysis. My second elder uncle has lost his sight and his leg was amputated as a result of his diabetes.

I took refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in 1999. Before I got sick, my family led a very smooth life. This was the result of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings that allowed us the opportunity to concentrate on practicing Buddhism in peace. But I did not fully realize the value of these blessings. Not only did I not think to use my practicing to help my family, but even prevented my husband from making offerings! Also, in my heart, I had unclear thoughts towards Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, all which resulted in the evil karma that I now faced.

After getting ill, I often went to see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Yet my visits had wasted Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s time and energy and indirectly prevented others from having a chance to meet him. In spite of my awful karma, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to use his merit to help such a hopeless disciple as myself and lessen my pain. The shame and gratefulness in my heart is unspeakable.

On August 31, 2008 at the Amitabha Buddha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness a miracle occurred: my mouth made a complete recovery! This makes me feel deep gratitude for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s extraordinary compassion and unthinkable great power.

When I recall the period of my illness, terror runs through me. I have deeply experienced the terrible effect of karma and I hope everybody can use my experiences as a lesson and not make the same mistakes repeatedly. Do not be ungrateful of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s patience and ceaseless teaching in the pujas. Constantly reviewing my behavior, I realized my sins were very deep. I have taken refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for 8 years to date, but have not yet achieved the proper behavior of a true Buddhist disciple.

I was lack of faith and respect in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

  • Unconcerned with the affairs of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.
  • Exhibiting a lack of concentration during the pujas and when doing my daily spiritual practices.
  • Overly calculating when making offerings.
  • Taking care of myself was the motive behind all actions
  • Being sarcastic, acrimonious, cold, selfish, proud and overly sensitive about my reputation.
  • Preventing my husband from practicing Buddhism and making offerings.

Think about it. We have such a powerful and compassionate Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. It’s auspicious to obtain such opportunity. We must treasure the causes and conditions! A teacher like Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is hard to meet even in countless lives—all we can do is rely on the precious Guru.

All my dharma brothers, please take my unfortunate circumstances as a warning: Be alert, do not waste the time, seize the moment, practice the Buddhism very hard and liberate yourself from life and death. Do not let Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche worry about us.

In recent days I feel deep appreciation for the care shown to me by my dharma brothers, in particular our team leaders, Tian Shu-jun and Lai Guan-yun, who gave me much support, and Fang Guo-an, Cao Shu-zhong, Wang Bi-die and Wang Li-lan, whose enthusiasm and passion has touched my heart. A big thanks to everyone!

Disciple Xu Xiu-ling

Updated on April 1, 2009