How do prayers, dedicating the merits, etc. help people?

Jan 25, 2021



Hi very precious Robina,


I was enthusiastically following all your teachings and again I thank you.


I understand your example of how you have to go through all the learning/training process in order to, let’s say, be able to play piano yourself and how no one else can do it for – this was illustrating the fact that you can’t purify other people’s karma, they have to do it themselves.


 What is the point then of visualizing people at your heart when doing Vajrasattva practice, for example? Is it only a technique to make you open your heart to others?


My understanding is that by purifying yourself and the relationship, it does change the context, you do help the other person, knowing that of course you can’t do all the job.


– And how about dedicating the merits? Is it again just a technique or do people truly benefit from this dedication?


– And when doing tonglen – only a technique to develop compassion?


– And when people ask you for prayers? During a retreat last year, many of my friends –who were not even all Buddhist – asked me for prayers. I did it very strongly and sincerely and it worked. Of course, I was thinking of me as an intermediary between them and the gurus/buddhas.


– And last question, which that I’ve had for nearly 40 years, how do you understand what was said at time that Serkong Rinpoche died from having taken the obstacles to the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama; does it work differently between holy beings?


The presence of others is strongly in my mind when I do my practices and it stimulates me a lot because I want so much to be able to really help.

With all my gratitude, and big love,




Dearest L,


I’m happy to hear from you.


As for your questions: they all come down to two things: the power of the mind and the power of the holy beings.


Because every thought we have sows seeds in the mind, then virtuous thoughts benefit the person who has them, and, indeed, every negative thought harms the person who has them. That’s clear. 


So the main beneficiary of all the practices — tonglen, purification, dedication prayers, praying for others, etc — is oneself! But it’s not self-centered. These practices are benefiting you insofar as they’re your training; they qualify you to help. This whole process is how we become a buddha: every virtuous practice we do necessarily benefits us by qualifying us to help others.


Practicing to become a buddha is just the same as practicing to become a doctor. What reason other than compassion compels you to become a healer? But every second of your practice is what turns you into the healer! And it’s then you can actually heal others. The function of compassion, of bodhichitta, is to open your heart and give incredible enthusiasm to not give up becoming a healer.


That’s the first point. Never doubt it. Your bodhichitta motivation – your constant wish to help others, visualizing helping them, visualizing taking upon yourself their suffering; all of this – this is what makes you become a buddha as quickly as possible. Then you are qualified to do exactly what you visualized.


As for prayers to the holy beings to benefit others: because there are holy beings pervading the universe whose only job is help others, then our prayers to them is one of the causes for them to help. The buddhas have perfect power to help all the time, but it’s a dependent scenario. We have to request. Requesting, wanting, is one of the most powerful causes for things to happen. 


You could be the best healer on the planet, but if no one ever asks you to help them, it’s hard to help them, isn’t it? They have to create the cause, to ask you. Same with the buddhas. Our requesting the buddhas makes it so easy for them to help us – they come rushing in! It’s dependent arising.


When we dedicate, all we’re doing is remembering why we did that practice, or whatever: for the sake of others. Again, you are the beneficiary. That dedication causes you to become more and more compassionate, and as you progress, as you get more wisdom, as you get more compassion, so then others will benefit.


Tonglen: when you visualize taking upon yourself that person’s headache, that’s not to heal them. You’re the beneficiary insofar as you become brave in your compassion. Then you’ll eventually be able to take upon yourself their suffering, give them your happiness. It’s training.


As for the holy beings taking on the obstacles of His Holiness, let’s say — they said the same about Lama Yeshe when he passed away — it’s like they run in front of the bus and thus stop His Holiness from being hit. It’s like that.


Is this clear, L? If not, let’s discuss.






Yes, dear Robina, thank you very much for your answer.


It does help and clarify even if somehow it disappoints me because I had the conviction that it was already helping others.


I just have to go on and pray to get some result in order to be more and more effective, right? 


Your recent teachings deeply nourished me.


Big love




Good, L!


You’re training to help people! Just like you don’t wait till you’re a perfect doctor before you help people – each moment of training qualifies you to help according to that level – you don’t wait till you’re a buddha to help. Each daily practice, each prayer, each aspiration enables you to help at that level. It’s an ongoing process.


So rejoice!




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