Is it Murder? Is it Manslaughter? Is it just your karma?

Unfortunately some teachers (main teachers included here) not all teachers but some, advise their students that they do not need medication they just need faith.

It is our direct experience that the advice, “you can purify your sickness by doing centre work” is a widely spread belief.

We understand that Geshe Kelsang in festivals has advised people to go to the doctor, to take medication and to accompany the healing practice of Medicine Buddha etc with ‘conventional’ medicine. This is his public advice at least but this public advice however doesn’t always travel through the centres.

We also know that Geshe Kelsang himself has used ‘conventional’ medicine and has been in hospital in the past with tuberculosis.

Many of us have had teachers who have advised that, for example, rest is not needed when you are sick since the best way to purify illness is through doing centre work.

Sickness is viewed as:-

1. Self cherishing – if you cherished yourself less you wouldn’t be sick

2. Laziness

3. Your karma – If you are sick the attitude in centres quickly becomes one of ‘well its your karma’. ‘If you hadn’t of done bad actions in the past you wouldn’t be sick now’, ‘Its your ripened karma you’ll just have to deal with it until its purified’. It is rare in centres for a sick person to be looked after when they are ill. It is our experience here that many people are left to their own devices and often treated as problems when they are ill. In fact if you end up with a long term illness you are more than likely to be asked to leave your home or you are treated like someone who is faking illness to get out of your centre work or worse your study commitments (you’ll be sick so that you don’t have to go to TTP etc implying you don’t have real aspiring Bodhichitta and you don’t really want to help all living beings get enlightened).

4. You do not have enough faith – It is said that REAL faith in the Guru will cure all illness, so if you get ill and it turns into a long standing problem you are obviously a person with ‘not enough faith.’ We know of people who have been advised to stop their cancer treatment and their heart drugs for example, we know of at least three people who have died of their illnesses after following this advice. Obviously it can not be proven that the people died from following this advice but to us it seems that it is more than likely to be true. You see – they were informed that they needed to purify and if they had faith in their Guru they would be ok without their medication. The view being that, “they unfortunately must have had weak faith and they died because of it not the advice they were given and followed”.

5. “You are not a pure practitioner” – an often used cry from people within the NKT when you are not doing what they deem to be appropriate. If you were a ‘pure’ practitioner, your faith, merit and karma would be in such a good state it would over ride your current ripening of ‘sickness karma’.

6. “You are empty so you haven’t got a problem?” – If you are sick or have any type of problem, another piece of general advice given is, “You are empty; your problem is empty”. This true. You are empty of inherent existence and so is your problem, but this doesn’t mean that the problem will go away just because you acknowledge this fact. Generally this statement is used to undermine a person asking for help and is used to make them go away and stop them from being a problem for the person giving out the advice.

7. “It is all in your mind! Practice contentment!” – if you are struggling with illness or any other type of problem you are treated like someone who has no understanding of Buddhism, training the mind, empitiness etc.

8. All of the above are generally used in one way or another over a period of time with a sick person. Generally the teaching of compassion is not one that is banded about and applied to the sick person.

We find it very hard to understand that teachers could dish out this advice as medicine is not inherently existent, as with everything else in this world. It too is the guru and the Buddhas. Medicine is not separate from the guru or the Buddhas. In fact we have to ask – is this ‘medicine’ an emanation of our guru/Buddha’s if we are to think of ourselves as people who follow a more tantric approach to the spiritual guide?

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