Traga Rinpoche’s Letter to the Ukrainian Buddhist Sangha

I want to express my deepest concern about the welfare of all of you in Ukraine, as Russia is attacking your country. I will be praying for you every day and performing rituals for the swift end to the violence in your country and your healing now and in the future. At this time, more than ever, I hope you recollect refuge, bodhichitta, and the Buddha’s teachings. It is important to remember karma, cause, and effect. Due to the collective negative karma accumulated by beings in this world over countless lifetimes, we find ourselves in a degenerate era where people attack each other and engage in the terrible actions of war. This is the result of negative actions. At this time, it is critical to remember cause and effect, so that we do not commit further negative actions to make the situation worse. Hatred has no benefit.

Those that attack us, we think of as enemies. When people engage in such atrocious actions of war and violence, we must understand that they are doing actions that will only result in future negative effects. Thus, we should regard such individuals that engage in such behavior as being mentally ill, doing things that harm themselves in this and in future lifetimes. If these people really understood cause and effect, they would never engage in such negative actions. Thus, our enemies are really sick and mentally ill, under the delusion of their own afflictive emotions and ignorance.

When we recognize that our enemies are overcome by afflictive emotions, ignorance, and delusion, we should generate compassion for them. We should make the wish that they are swiftly freed from afflictive emotions, ignorance, and delusion. By regarding our enemies and all sentient beings with love, compassion, and bodhichitta, we overcome the temporary obstacle of negative circumstances in our practice.

Right now we have a choice. If we react in fear and anger, this can lead to more negative results that will just end up causing future suffering for ourselves and others. If we can instead cultivate patience, love, compassion, and bodhichitta towards all beings, especially our enemies, then we transform negative circumstances into the path. Even though beings may attack and try to harm us outwardly, when we inwardly abstain from anger and cultivate love, every situation becomes a part of the bodhisattva’s practice.

In such times, take the bodhisattva vow again and again. Make the commitment to never abandon bodhichitta. Read the thirty-seven bodhisattva practices and merge the meaning of it with your mindstream. Do not give into afflictive emotions that lead to the lower realms. Do not lose your practice to outer negative circumstances. Practice giving and receiving (tonglen) to take on all the suffering of beings and send them happiness in return. Pray that all beings, both friends and enemies both go to Dewachen and not the lower realms.

Go for refuge in the Buddha, dharma, sangha, gurus, yidams, dakinis, and dharma protectors. Recite the six syllables of Om mani peme hung, the mantra of the great compassionate Chenrezig, and Om tare tu tare ture soha, the mantra of Tara. Do the practices of the purification of negative karma and healing rituals for all beings. If you are a secret mantra practitioner and you know the practices to remove obstacles, perform them. In short, the key point is to not let outer negative circumstances over power your mind. I will be praying for you all. May you live long!

This letter was orally transcribed and translated by Eric Fry-Miller, according to Traga Rinpoche’s wishes.