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

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

198 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGpersevered, and his long efforts were rewarded when he foundthe dead master's principal disciple. Geshe Chekhawa askedthis disciple: "just how important do you think the teachingscontained in these two lines are?" The disciple replied:'Whether you like it or not, you will have to practice thisteaching if you truly wish to attain buddhahood."This reply astonished Geshe Chekhawa almost as much ashis first reading of the two lines, and he stayed with this disciplefor twelve years, to study this teaching and to take toheart the practice of Tonglen, which is its practical application.During that time, Geshe Chekhawa had to face many differentkinds of ordeals: all sorts of difficulties, criticism, hardships,and abuse. And the teaching was so effective, and hisperseverance in its practice so intense, that after six years hehad completely eradicated any self grasping and self-cherishing.The practice of Tonglen had transformed him into a master ofcompassion.At first Geshe Chekhawa taught Tonglen to only a fewclose disciples, thinking that it would only work for thosewho had great faith in it. Then he began to teach it to a groupof lepers. Leprosy at that time was common in Tibet, andordinary doctors were unable to treat or cure it. But many ofthe lepers who did Tonglen practice were cured. The news ofthis spread fast, and other lepers flocked to his house, whichbegan to seem like a hospital.Still Geshe Chekhawa didn't teach Tonglen widely. It wasonly when he noticed the effect it had on his brother that hebegan to give it out more publicly. Geshe Chekhawa's brotherwas an inveterate skeptic, who derided all forms of spiritualpractice. However, when he saw what was happening to thelepers who were practicing Tonglen, this brother could nothelp being impressed and intrigued. One day he hid behind adoor and listened to Geshe Chekhawa teaching Tonglen, andthen, in secret, started doing the practice on his own. WhenGeshe Chekhawa noticed that his brother's hard character wasbeginning to soften, he guessed what had happened.If this practice could work on his brother, he thought, andtransform him, then it could work on and transform any otherhuman being. This convinced Geshe Chekhawa to teachTonglen far more widely. He himself never ceased to practiceit. Toward the end of his life, Geshe Chekhawa told his studentsthat for a long time he had been praying fervently to bereborn in the hell realms, so as to be of help to all the beingssuffering there. Unfortunately, he added, he had recently had

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