Using Illness To Train The Mind
By Seventh Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso

Whenever a physical illness arises, we usually multiply our suffering by worring and by pressing
mental anxiety on top of it. One should understand that the human body is a composite of
elements and agents that constantly are struggling with one another. When these elements and
agents fall into disharmony or when external factors such as the many types of evil powers are
affected, the various diseases naturally arise with intensity and for long period of time. Therefore
one might as well face up to the fact that during the course of one's life a certain amount of
disease is inevitable. When one does fall painfully ill, one should not be concerned with one's
own situation. Instead consider the inconceivable sufferings of the hell denizens, the hungry
ghosts, animals and so forth whose anguish is infinitely greater than one's own. Ask yourself,
"If they must bear such immense pain, how can I not bear this suffering which by comparison is
small? If I am so weakened by my suffering, how must they feel who anguish is so much greater?
May their afflictions be alleviated by this illness of mine."

   Thinking in this way, visualize that you are surrounded by all sentient beings experiencing
every type of suffering. As you inhale, visualize that all their negativities and obscurations,
sickness and pain ripen upon you, freeing them from all misery, and as you exhale, visualize
all good things going to them in the form of white nectar giving them happiness. Repeat this
process again and again.

   As the benefits of this contemplation surpass the effects of any virtuous actions, any illness
should be seen as an excellent opportunity to practice Dharma. Think, "Even if I never recover,
I can continue to practice the meditation of taking others' suffering upon myself and giving
others peace - a powerful practice unsurpassed by all. Therefore I am perfectly happy to lie
here with this illness."

  If you can practice this advice from the depth of your heart, there is no doubt that you will
be benefited in both this and future lives, hence keep it in mind.