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The purpose of this meditation is to generate a fear of being reborn in the lower realms, and then to consider this fear in the light of death and impermanence.
I began the meditation by thinking about how I will be blown to my next rebirth by the winds of my karma – without choice. I will have no freedom to stay with my family and friends, and no control over where my next rebirth will be.
I considered the sufferings possible just of humans. I could be reborn in a barren place, where crops do not grow and everyone is hungry. I could be reborn in a place under the control of warlords, where government and security are not present. I could be born with a painful congenital disease which affects everything I do. I could find myself being tortured for being the wrong background, skin colour or political colour. I thought of all the people hidden away in the basements of government buildings around the world. Their loved ones don’t know what has happened to them, but they are being tortured with pliers and screwdrivers.
Why don’t these things happen to me now? It is just my karma at this moment which provides me with freedom from this suffering. But when this karma is used up, other karma will take its place and I may well find myself in the same position as those I have been thinking about.
I developed a deep dread of being tortured and tried to focus on it for a while, remembering that this is just one of the many sufferings of the beings in samsara.
I then turned my attention to how death and impermanence informs this dread of the sufferings of the lower realms. Instantly I recognised that these sufferings were not in some ‘never never’ land far away. They are just the other side of a thin wall – a wall I can pass through at any time. I could die tomorrow, or even today. I could be facing these sufferings tomorrow! The thought chilled me to my heart, and I felt a determination to make every single moment count. I must rely on the Three Jewels as my source of refuge, create only virtuous actions, and I must purify all my negativities and urgently as possible. I remained on this determination for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings remember the sufferings of the lower realms, and thereby become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to maintain this fear of suffering, and treat a virtuous path.