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Balanced Mind, Balanced Body eBook - FPMT

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I offer this book to my most kind, patient, and precious guru, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, without whom I would be completely lost. May this compilation serve to bring all sentient beings to enlightenment as quickly as possible and may it only be pleasing to the guru's holy mind.

- Amy Cayton


In particular, I thank Venerable Ribur Rinpoche and Venerables Tenzin Rinpoche, Roger Kunsang, Tenzin Lungtok, Tenzin Monlam, Thubten Tsering, and Thubten Lhundup, the master painter Gehlek, and my Dharma sisters, all of whom have so kindly and consistently tried to show me how to relax my mind and to be happy. I also thank my family and my FPMT family, who have generously given me the time and space I needed to complete this compilation.

Editor's Preface

In 2002, Lama Zopa Rinpoche requested me to put together a collection of stories from FPMT students about successfully dealing with the condition known as lung (Tib. rlung; pronounced loong). Rinpoche was quite clear that the collection should be about what worked, and not just about the stories of what people experienced while having lung. I didn't really feel up to this task, being neither a lama nor a Tibetan doctor, so I did some preparation by reading and by asking questions of those qualified to know about lung and its treatment.

I did learn some things about lung. For instance:

There are several different types of lung: for example, heart lung, blood lung, tantric lung, and so on.

Lung can come from imbalances in one or more of the three constituents of air (wind), phlegm, and bile.

It is best, if possible, for these imbalances to be rebalanced, not simply pacified.

One should consult a qualified teacher or Tibetan doctor to treat lung.

It is best to prevent or catch lung early on, as it can be more difficult to deal with the longer it persists or if it becomes a chronic state.

Lung may have both substantial (karmic) causes and immediate causes.

Since lung is largely due to karmic causes, it is of utmost importance to have one's condition diagnosed by a qualified lama or Tibetan doctor. This is mainly because not every state that appears lung-ish is really lung, and things labeled as lung in Dharma communities may not be best handled as lung. Further, not all forms of lung are treated in the same way. Thus, for example, if eating fatty foods is good for a case of lung coming from an air imbalance, this may not be helpful for someone whose imbalance is in the bile element.

It is important, therefore, to be aware that the writings collected in this booklet are not to be taken as a complete set of advice or as expert advice. Each contributing student reported what worked for them; therefore, these are accounts of individual experiences, not prescriptions to be followed by everyone. In fact, this is an important point: karma and the mind determine what will work for one person or another, and what works for one will certainly not work for all. Therefore, it may even appear that some of the suggested treatments contradict each other, exactly because the solution to lung rests with each individual seeking help and working with his or her own mind in the process.

Of course, in preparing this booklet, I had my own lung as my best friend and teacher. Lung has really showed me my lifelong habits of mental states and behavior. Every time I tried to push while working on this booklet, I would develop lung symptoms and would need to stop, recuperate, and engage in other forms of service, as well as other ways of thinking/feeling about service and practice, until I could try again.

As Lama Zopa Rinpoche advised me, bodhichitta and tonglen practice are key in dealing with lung. Other methods that I find helpful are creating a relaxed mental state (when I met the Dharma, I'm not sure if I even knew of a mental state or way of doing other than intense), generating feelings of joy, practicing correct breathing, and doing Migtsema retreat.¹ It is also helpful for me to balance study, reflection, debate and discussion, and service. Some Tibetan medicines and interventions have also been helpful. However, these are so individual that I won't mention them here.

In addition, Rinpoche gave me various meditations to try:

Visualize the guru on the crown of your head and do the practice of the four initiations. This can be done in the context of Lama Chöpa practice. Visualize nectar flowing from the guru's heart, coming into your body, speech, and mind, and purifying illness, spirit harm, negative karma, obscurations, and especially lung energy. Then recite the guru's name mantra as much as you can.

Visualize an iron nine-pronged vajra, standing up inside your body at your heart. The vajra is red hot, blazing, and one with fire. Concentrate single-pointedly on that vajra.

When lung arises at your heart, think that your heart is split into eight or sixteen pieces, like a tomato cut into pieces, causing all the blood and pus to run out.

Anyway, my main success strategy has been to completely rely on my root guru and ultimate doctor, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and rather than stopping what I do, pausing and then changing how I do it.

In conclusion, and most importantly, I want to express a huge thank you to all those who sent stories for this booklet. After considering all kinds of ways to organize these anecdotes (a process that took one whole year!), I decided in the end to present them in chronological order of when I received them. Four of the longer, more substantial contributions have been presented as individual chapters. I hope the minds of all those who contributed to this project will be happy with my offering of this edited collection.

I also want to express special gratitude to Venerable Segyu Rinpoche and Dr. Tsondue Gyatso, who spent so much time and gave so much wisdom trying to educate me.

Big love to you all!

Amy Cayton

Aptos, California, USA



by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

It's a strange thing about lung. I don't think I've ever heard Theravadins talk about it, but as soon as you encounter Tibetan Buddhism, you come to know about lung. First, you're introduced to Tibetan Buddhism, and second, to lung - that very famous lung! I'm also not sure that Zen practitioners talk about lung; so far I haven't heard them do so.

Lung comes up when one is bored and tired of doing prayers. Things that are difficult and things that we don't like bring lung. I don't think that the things you really enjoy bring lung. Sometimes when you put a lot of energy into something, suddenly the energy changes and then you change; you give up. For example, there was a monk who worked really hard for a very long time with computers, even through the night, and then it suddenly changed and he couldn't do that work any more. The energy just changed.

Psychologically, the antidote is to accept it. Whenever you encounter problems, rather than being unhappy and suffering, accept it as a result of past karma; then it is no longer a problem or much less of a problem. It is good to think of the benefits of the problem. The basis for accepting the problem is thinking of its benefits. For example, experiencing the problem enables you to finish past negative karma.

Sometimes meditators who practice strongly, who lead pure lives of renunciation, experience many sicknesses and problems, one after another. Of course, whether these experiences become a problem to them or not depends on how they think. Something that appears as a problem to others might not be a problem for them. It depends on how they look at the situation. Cancer or other serious illnesses can be taken as a very positive sign, because it means that the person will no longer have to experience many hundreds of thousands of lifetimes of heavy suffering results in the lower realms for incredible lengths of time from just one negative karma. That karma manifests as an illness in this life and finishes in that way. In such cases, it's a very positive, very good thing that happened.

Such heavy karmas can also finish simply by manifesting as other people criticizing you. The teachings talk about this as being one of the benefits of bodhichitta. Due to the power of bodhichitta, the good heart, instead of having to experience heavy suffering in either the human realm or the lower realms for incredible lengths of time, certain heavy negative karmas can get purified by manifesting as people criticizing or blaming you in this life. They finish as simply as that. Or they manifest as other experiences in this life such as migraine headaches, toothaches, nightmares, fearful dreams - things like that can finish heavy negative karmas that would otherwise have to be experienced as unbearable sufferings for great lengths of time.

Therefore, one should meditate, rejoicing in having suffering and problems. Then, as is taught in thought transformation practices, use your problem to practice bodhichitta, for taking and giving practice - taking all sentient beings' suffering in the form of pollution through the nostrils, into the heart, destroying the self-cherishing thought completely. Meditate on the I to be refuted, the object of ignorance. Think: I'm experiencing this for all sentient beings. Whenever lung comes, think like that. Whenever you are able to think like that, you collect so much merit and the body becomes like a wish-granting jewel. With this body, with each