The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

realjannaweiss

The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

198 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING

persevered, and his long efforts were rewarded when he found

the dead master's principal disciple. Geshe Chekhawa asked

this disciple: "just how important do you think the teachings

contained in these two lines are?" The disciple replied:

'Whether you like it or not, you will have to practice this

teaching if you truly wish to attain buddhahood."

This reply astonished Geshe Chekhawa almost as much as

his first reading of the two lines, and he stayed with this disciple

for twelve years, to study this teaching and to take to

heart the practice of Tonglen, which is its practical application.

During that time, Geshe Chekhawa had to face many different

kinds of ordeals: all sorts of difficulties, criticism, hardships,

and abuse. And the teaching was so effective, and his

perseverance in its practice so intense, that after six years he

had completely eradicated any self grasping and self-cherishing.

The practice of Tonglen had transformed him into a master of

compassion.

At first Geshe Chekhawa taught Tonglen to only a few

close disciples, thinking that it would only work for those

who had great faith in it. Then he began to teach it to a group

of lepers. Leprosy at that time was common in Tibet, and

ordinary doctors were unable to treat or cure it. But many of

the lepers who did Tonglen practice were cured. The news of

this spread fast, and other lepers flocked to his house, which

began to seem like a hospital.

Still Geshe Chekhawa didn't teach Tonglen widely. It was

only when he noticed the effect it had on his brother that he

began to give it out more publicly. Geshe Chekhawa's brother

was an inveterate skeptic, who derided all forms of spiritual

practice. However, when he saw what was happening to the

lepers who were practicing Tonglen, this brother could not

help being impressed and intrigued. One day he hid behind a

door and listened to Geshe Chekhawa teaching Tonglen, and

then, in secret, started doing the practice on his own. When

Geshe Chekhawa noticed that his brother's hard character was

beginning to soften, he guessed what had happened.

If this practice could work on his brother, he thought, and

transform him, then it could work on and transform any other

human being. This convinced Geshe Chekhawa to teach

Tonglen far more widely. He himself never ceased to practice

it. Toward the end of his life, Geshe Chekhawa told his students

that for a long time he had been praying fervently to be

reborn in the hell realms, so as to be of help to all the beings

suffering there. Unfortunately, he added, he had recently had

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