The one thing you should know for certain is that the only

thing that Tonglen could harm is the one thing that has been

harming you the most: your own ego, your self-grasping, selfcherishing

mind, which is the root of suffering. For if you

practice Tonglen as often as possible, this self-grasping mind

will get weaker and weaker, and your true nature, compassion,

will be given a chance to emerge more and more

strongly. The stronger and greater your compassion, the

stronger and greater your fearlessness and confidence. So compassion

reveals itself yet again as your greatest resource and

your greatest protection. As Shantideva says:

Whoever wishes to quickly afford protection

To both himself and others

Should practice that holy secret

The exchanging of self for others. 9

This holy secret of the practice of Tonglen is one that the

mystic masters and saints of every tradition know; and living

it and embodying it, with the abandon and fervor of true wisdom

and true compassion, is what fills their lives with joy.

One modern figure who dedicated her life to serving the sick

and dying and who radiated this joy of giving and receiving

was Mother Teresa. I know of no more inspiring statement of

the spiritual essence of Tonglen than these words of hers:

We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power

to be in heaven with Him at this very moment. But being happy

with Him now means:

Loving as He loves,

Helping as He helps,

Giving as He gives,

Serving as He serves,

Rescuing as He rescues,

Being with Him twenty-four hours,

Touching Him in his distressing disguise.

A love as vast as this cured Geshe Chekhawa's lepers of

their leprosy; it could also perhaps cure us of a disease even

more dangerous: of that ignorance, which life after life has

hindered us from realizing the nature of our mind, and so of

attaining liberation.

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