I used to have a birth defect [gout] in my foot, a twisted bone. So I used the Diamond Cutter method … on my foot, and now I do ballet…. So you can use those seeds on your body. You can remove diseases from your body, you can make your body strong if you know the [karmic] seeds…. And if you want to fix the bone in foot, you help sick people in a certain way, selectively.
Emptiness: A Deep Dive, 2010
And I’ve had other people come to me and say really I have a health problem, for example breast cancer or something like that, and they’ve come to me and asked me, “Can I use the Diamond Cutter principles to, for my health, or to stay young, and to remove sickness?” And so you can use the Diamond Cutter principles for all these things.
Karmic Management, 2011
It is no surprise that Geshe Michael’s chief disciple and former wife Christie McNally also held such view. In a talk right before leading almost forty people into retreat, McNally explained, “It is not that we go and we can take away somebody else’s pain just through that meditation, but the meditation does work. People have been given this meditation who have cancer, and they have actually cured their cancer from it!”
Had such way of thinking clouded Christie McNally’s and Ian Thorson’s judgment as they fell ill and thus were late to seek medical attention? While Geshe Michael referred to them as the “two people that screwed up”, perhaps the seeds of their undoing were sown in the hours and years of paying heed to his every word.
Since the tragedy, Geshe Michael has not shied away from such talk:
Everything is coming from you. You can change everything. Financial, you can make $250 million if you understand Chin-kang Ching [Diamond Cutter sutra]. You can make $250 million…. You can change it, if you have some cancer. I had a woman, she had a cancer in her breast and she said, “Can I change it?” I said, “Of course.” It’s coming from you. If it’s not coming from you, you can not change it. If it’s coming from you, you can change it. How many things are coming from you? Everything, OK, everything. Cancer is also coming from you, you can change it. She’s … that was how long ago? 25 years ago, I think, in New York. She asked we what to do, then now, I don’t know, how old is she? 80?…. She’s 80 years old and she’s still fine.
Karma of Love, 2013
Update: It appears that the “Diamond Cutter principles” were not effective against a more commonplace ailment:
“So we just got back from India. We try to go every year to get recharged and learn new things…. And then every year we say, we are not going to get sick this time, you know. We’re definitely not going to get diarrhoea this time, you know…. So this time, … we took one suitcase full of Cheerios, like eight boxes of Cheerios in this suitcase and then we had our own olives and we had our own coco and we have somebody in India went and set up an ultraviolet water purification system and then we boiled that afterwards it was purified. And we didn’t eat anywhere and we cooked everything ourselves and we boiled everything twice. And then the first day we got diarrhoea.
So all the things which you think would be healthy to eat, right, so you look at a glass of milk, somebody hands you a glass of milk in India. Or they just hand you a glass of water, right, you can’t get a glass of water in India, you can’t get a glass of water which you can drink. So here is this thing, you are looking at it, will this kill me, you see. And I am talking literal, you know. Like we were very sick there and there is nothing you can do, because the penicillin is bad too, you see, I am not kidding, I am not kidding. Maybe somebody in the factory wanted an extra 50 cents, they threw in some rat poison or something, you see. So you look at all the objects in the store, you go in a store and you look around and you say, everything in here, in this store that I could buy to make myself strong and healthy, or just to eat today, any one of them could kill me. And you start to get paranoid, you get really paranoid. You buy these bottles of water, right, very expensive. You buy bottled water, people open it, they pour out the bottled water, they pour in the dirty water. They glue it back shut. And they sell it to the foreigners, you know. So you got this bottle of water and you don’t know. Maybe this bottle of water will kill me, maybe I won’t get back to Tucson, you know. It’s a real thought go through your mind like the fifth week you have diarrhoea, you can’t eat, you can’t … you lose like 20 lbs and you are like, I don’t know if I’ll make it back, you know.”
Spiritual Partners, 2006
With such a disconcerting health issue, it is not clear how frequently and for how long Geshe Michael studied at Sera Mey monastery.
Further reading: On the five niyamas:
“The Buddha’s teachings on karma differ from those of other religions of Asia. Many people believed — and still believe — that everything about their present life was caused by actions in the past. In this view, everything that happens to us happened because of something we did in the past.
But the Buddha disagreed. He taught there are five types of factors at work in the cosmos that cause things to happen, called the Five Niyamas. Karma is only one of these factors. Present circumstances are the result of countless factors that are always in flux. There is no single cause that makes everything to be the way it is.
2. Bija Niyama
Bija Niyama is the law of living matter, what we would think of as biology. The Pali word bija means “seed,” and so Bija Niyama governs the nature of germs and seeds and the attributes of sprouts, leaves, flowers, fruits, and plant life generally.
Some modern scholars suggest that laws of genetics that apply to all life, plant and animal, would come under the heading of Bija Niyama.” Read more >
“The doctrine of kamma is probably the most misunderstood of all the Buddha’s teachings. The four most common misunderstandings are these. (1) Everything which happens to us is the result of our past kamma. In actual fact, Buddhism recognized at least four other broad causes of why things happen, including because of the operation of natural laws (dhamma niyama), biological laws (bija niyama), physical laws (utu niyama) and psychological laws (citta niyama, Atthasalani.854; A.III,62). Read more >