I wasn't planning on diving into this subject so soon, but I have a close friend whose health is declining, and the situation has made the issue an urgent priority for me.
HIV, as we all know, is a serious infection that needs immediate and continual treatment by a medical doctor. While the medications used to treat HIV have come far and diagnosis is no longer a death sentence, there is no known cure for HIV.
There have been some studies that indicate that prayer and other spiritual practices CAN have a positive effect on recovery from serious illnesses – whether through the “power of positive thinking” or through divine intervention is a matter of individual interpretation. With this in mind, I would like to describe the spiritual practices I am doing in an effort to benefit my close friends with HIV. Please note that they are both on medication and receiving treatment from a medical doctor. The following is NOT meant to diagnose or treat any condition, or substitute for treatment from a qualified medical professional.
Lama Zopa's online Advice Book includes letters he wrote to students about practices they could do for HIV, which some of them claimed had dramatic results. The specific practices he advised for each individual were, understandably, intense. Accomplishing any major goal usually requires extraordinary effort. When I decided I wanted to help pray for my friends, the first thing I did was request a mirror divination from Lama Dawa Rinpoche as to which practice might bring about the best results for them. His divination indicated that the Triple Wrathful Deity practice, Vajrapani-Hayagriva-Garuda (Ta Chag Khyung Sum) would be the most beneficial. This is a practice commonly indicated in divinations for persons with serious conditions such as cancer and HIV.
I received the empowerment for this practice from Tulku Theglo Rinpoche when he came to Austin in 2008. Then I ordered a copy of the sadhana text from Vimala Treasures (Please note that receiving the empowerment is a prerequisite for ordering the sadhana text from them). It took some time and real effort for me to find someone who could clarify the wording at the end of the text, which indicates how many accumulations to make and of which mantras. The bottom line – a real kicker – was that it's necessary to accumulate over 4 million mantra recitations to complete this sadhana. Yes, this is a lot: many practices only call for 100,000 to 500,000 accumulations, which is difficult enough for practitioners outside a monastery.
My plan for how I intend to accomplish this, in a reasonable amount of time, is to recite the mantra 2,000 times a day on weekdays, and to make every weekend a mini-retreat where I recite the mantra all day from waking to sleeping. I'm estimating I can accumulate 14,000 repetitions on a retreat day. At such an intense pace, it will take me roughly two years to complete this sadhana. Someone who wanted to take a slightly more relaxed (but still challenging) pace could do 2,000 repetitions a day, seven days a week, and complete the sadhana in five and half years. I want to point out that 2,000 a day is difficult for me, and I've been practicing mantra recitation daily for over ten years. Someone new to mantra practice might find 2,000 daily repetitions impossible. I genuinely believe that miracles are possible, but to produce them by effort of will is extraordinarily difficult. In this short blog post I have NOT given enough information for someone to undertake the sadhana, but if you are sincerely determined, please leave a comment or email me and I will consult with some Lamas and post more on the subject.