How can we help a friend who has gotten himself into big trouble? He is not aware of what he is doing and rejects any good advice anyone offers.

Lama Ole’s answer:

There are direct and indirect ways to work with this. We may tell people directly, “Listen, do you know what you are doing to yourself?” We assert ourselves as well as possible. Apart from that, we make wishes to the buddhas and say, “Please, before all his capital is used up, just give him a good one on the nose, fast and hard so that he realizes that it was not a good idea and can get out of it.” We have good experiences with Tara in this type of situation, the female buddha principle. She can help in a motherly way. Mahakala may be a bit rough there, but we can use him too.

I would make wishes that they get into difficulties quickly so that they can stop quickly, instead of torturing themselves for a long time. Because the longer they keep on, the more strength they lose and the deeper they get into trouble. If people want to run head on into the wall, it is important that those who would usually hold a pillow in front of them pull it away from time to time and say, “Olé!”—because when it hurts, people may start to think. They really should be confronted with their actions.

My brother worked with people in withdrawal. He was very tough with them and provoked their pride. He really treated them like dirt, always pointing to their situation and saying, “Look at what you are now. Look at what you’ve done to yourself!” And in many cases, he was able to find a shred of pride and could then say, “Come on, now show me how you can do it differently.” He got them out like that, but it is difficult. Bad company is like honey—it sticks to your fingers.