210 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING 3. Now, as you breathe in, visualize this mass of black smoke dissolves, with your in-breath, into the very core of your self-grasping at your heart. There it destroys completely all traces of self-cherishing, thereby purifying all your negative karma. 4. Imagine now that your self-cherishing has been destroyed, that the heart of your enlightened mind, your Bodhichitta, is fully revealed. As you breathe out, then, imagine that you are sending out its brilliant, cooling light of peace, joy, happiness, and ultimate well-being to your friend in pain, and that its rays are purifying all their negative karma. Here I find it inspiring to imagine, as Shantideva suggests, that your Bodhichitta has transformed your heart, or your whole body and being itself, into a dazzling, wish-fulfilling jewel, a jewel that can grant the desires and wishes of anyone, and provide exactly what he or she longs for and needs. True compassion is the wish-fulfilling jewel because it has the inherent power to give precisely to each being whatever that being most needs, and so alleviate his or her suffering, and bring about his or her true fulfillment. 5. So at the moment the light of your Bodhichitta streams out to touch your friend in pain, it is essential to feel a firm conviction that all of his or her negative karma has been purified, and a deep, lasting joy that he or she has been totally freed of suffering and pain. Then, as you go on breathing normally, in and out, continue steadily with this practice. Practicing Tonglen on one friend in pain helps you to begin the process of gradually widening the circle of compassion to take on the suffering and purify the karma of all beings, and to give them all your happiness, well-being, joy, and peace of mind. This is the wonderful goal of Tonglen practice, and in a larger sense, of the whole path of compassion. TONGLEN FOR A DYING PERSON Now I think you can begin to see how Tonglen could be directed specifically toward helping the dying, how much strength and confidence it could give you when you come to help them, and how much actual transforming help it could offer them. I have given you the main Tonglen practice. Imagine now, in the place of your friend in pain, the person who is dying.
COMPASSION: THE WISH-FULFILLING JEWEL 211 Go through exactly the same stages as in the main Tonglen. In the visualization in part 3, imagine every aspect of the dying person's suffering and fear gathering into the mass of hot, black, grimy smoke, which you then breathe in; and consider too that by so doing, as before, you are destroying your selfgrasping and self-cherishing, and purifying all your negative karma. Now, as before, imagine, as you are breathing out, the light of the heart of your enlightened mind is filling the dying person with its peace and well-being and purifying all his or her negative karma. At every moment in our lives we need compassion, but what more urgent moment could there be than when we are dying? What more wonderful and consoling gift could you give to the dying than the knowledge that they are being prayed for, and that you are taking on their suffering and purifying their negative karma through your practice for them? Even if they don't know that you are practicing for them, you are helping them and in turn they are helping you. They are actively helping you to develop your compassion, and so purify and heal yourself. For me, every dying person is a teacher, giving all those who help them a chance to transform themselves through developing their compassion. 8 THE HOLY SECRET You may be asking yourself this question: "If I take in the sufferings and pain of others, won't I risk harming myself?" If you feel at all hesitant or feel that you don't yet have the strength or courage of compassion to do the practice of Tonglen wholeheartedly, don't worry. Just imagine yourself doing it, saying in your mind, "As I breathe in, I am taking on the suffering of my friend or others, and as I breathe out, I am giving him or them happiness and peace." Just simply doing this might create the climate in your mind that could inspire you to begin practicing Tonglen directly. If you feel at all hesitant or unable to do the full practice, you can also do Tonglen in the form of a simple prayer, deeply aspiring to help beings. You might pray for example: "May I be able to take on the suffering of others; may I be able to give my well-being and happiness to them." This prayer will create auspicious conditions for the awakening of your power to do Tonglen in the future.