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The purpose of this meditation is to generate the very strong wish for all living beings to find their way to true happiness, and then to meditate on this in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.
I began with breathing meditation, and then moved on to the main meditation when my thoughts had become quiet.
I started by remembering my affectionate and cherishing love for all living beings. Then I thought about how they work so hard to be happy, only to find that they cannot achieve the lasting happiness they seek. I thought about how they were in spiritual darkness, not knowing which way to turn.
Then another image came to me – an image of seeds buried below ground level. They were in darkness, but bright nourishing sunlight was very close to them. I wished that they could sprout and grow up to the surface. I imagined the moment when they found the surface and broke through into the light. From there, the sunlight nourished them into beautiful flowers. I saw the seeds as all living beings, trapped in darkness. Their sprouting was a combination of their karma and my strong wish, and their breaking through the surface was them finding Dharma, which nourished them to enlightenment.
I focused back down on this wish that all living beings could find the light of Dharma – the light of true happiness, and stayed with it for a time.
After this, I investigated what this means in light of the practice of exchanging self with others. Wishing everyone to be happy, without a thought for myself is the essence of exchanging self with others. All the happiness in the world comes from wishing others to be happy. With that in mind, I returned to the wish for all living beings to find true, lasting happiness. It was a lovely, expanding, blissful feeling and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
May all living beings find the true lasting happiness of Dharma, and may their seed-like Buddha nature quickly blossom into the beautiful everlasting flowers of enlightenment.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to wish happiness upon all living beings throughout the day.
Hello there to everyone who subscribes to the Daily Lamrim blog.
Today the number of subscribers reached 190, which is incredible! So I wanted to take the opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to each and every one of you.
I really appreciate you showing an interest in meditation and Buddhism, and I sincerely hope you get some benefit from my posts.
On reflection, I think there are a number of different ways you can use this blog.
Firstly you could just dip in and out, reading the occasional post for a bit of inspiration. Secondly, you could try to follow my progress and keep pace with me, using my contemplation as your own. Thirdly, you could do a series of meditations on the same Lamrim meditation, sorting my posts by category so that it shows just the posts that relate to that meditation. That way you could do a sort of retreat on a particular meditation object, slowing building your understanding of the object in different ways.
However you use the blog, thank you again for support and ongoing interest.
Finally, I want to say thanks to everyone who visits the blog, and everyone who leaves comments or questions – If you ever have any questions you want to ask, you are very welcome to do so – I love thinking about and trying to answer questions
Very best wishes to you all.
Love Vide x
The purpose of this meditation is to generate the feeling of taking on the suffering of others, and that this has led to the complete elimination of all our self-cherishing. From there, we contemplate what this feeling means in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.
I began with breathing meditation until my mind was calm enough to focus on the main topic today.
I started by remembering my affectionate and cherishing love for others, and then I contemplated their suffering for a few minutes. How they suffer! Once again, I developed a compassionate wish for all living beings to be free from their suffering, especially the suffering of bereavement. I imagined all these sufferings and loneliness rising up out of all living beings, and taking the aspect of black smoke, which clouded around me. As the smoke left others, they were freed from their suffering. They had not forgotten their lives and their experiences, however they were free from the suffering those experiences once caused them.
The smoke slowly condensed around me, and came into my heart, where it destroyed my self-cherishing. I felt a complete freedom from suffering, just like the other living beings. My self-cherishing – the cause of all my own suffering – had been completely destroyed, never to return.
I felt a deep peace and tranquillity which mirrored the feelings in the hearts of all living beings, and together we focused on this feeling for a long while.
After then, I decided to look at what this means in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.
It seemed to me that the act of taking was the actual method of eliminating my self-cherishing. By taking the suffering of others, both mentally and in reality, I am destroying my self-cherishing. I also realised that the more I do this, the greater my capacity will be. Like when we first do something which will cause some discomfort, we are very reluctant to do it, but once we have done it a few times we know the discomfort is quite bearable and we are no longer reluctant. The power of our love for others will protect us from suffering.
With this in mind, I returned to my meditation on the peace and calm of having completely removed self-cherishing from myself and all living beings.
May all living beings overcome the demon of self-cherishing, and with this peaceful, calm mind, quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to help others and take on their suffering without hesitation, knowing that my love for them will protect me from suffering.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate great compassion and then to meditate on this in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.
I began with some breathing meditation, calming my jumpy mind so that it slowly, over the course of about 10 minutes, became increasingly still, until I was ready to move on to the main meditation.
I started the meditation on compassion by recalling my affectionate and cherishing love for all living beings. I generated a special warm feeling in my heart for all living beings by contemplating their kindness, and by remembering the advantages of cherishing them. Once I had a very good feeling of cherishing love, I moved on to think about their predicament.
Just about everyone I can think of is in a state of suffering.Their normal lives are doomed, regardless of their wishes. No matter what they try to do, they cannot avoid the dreadful suffering of their loves ones dying. I thought of the feeling of loss that one could suffer at the loss of a child. I dwelt on this feeling, and then extended it’s scope to all living beings, because all living beings must endure similar sufferings.
Through the combination of this contemplation and the force of my love for them, I felt a strong wish for them all to be free from their suffering. I found their suffering difficult to bear, and I decided that I must do something about it. I imagined my determination manifesting like a deep ‘boom’ of thunder, so loud it could be heard from the depths of the lowest hell realm to the heights of the highest god realm. All living beings heard it, and knew what it meant – it was my determination to free them from their suffering. The maras heard it too, and knew I was coming for them.
With this visualisation, I focused on my feeling of wanting to free all my dear mothers from their unendurable cycle of suffering.
After a while of holding this in my attention, I decided to see what this meant in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.
It seemed to me that the link was that the strength of my compassion was directly related to the strength of my exchanging self with others. If I can complete my realisation of exchanging self with others, then I will cherish others with 100% of my capacity, and my great compassion will be as strong as possible. Therefore, to free all my mothers I must complete my training in exchanging self with others.
With this in mind, I returned to my rolling-clap-of-thunder-determination to free all living beings from their suffering. I focused on this for the rest of the meditation, and by the end it seemed like nothing could stop me achieving this goal.
May all living beings realise the protecting mind of great compassion, and through this, attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
Regardless of their outward appearance, I will see others as they really are – as suffering beings, and wish them to be free from their suffering.
The purpose of this meditation is to contemplate the meaning of Lamrim, and then to consider what this means in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.
I began with breathing meditation which served to calm my mind gently until it was nicely balanced and tranquil.
I then started the main meditation by thinking about the Lamrim. This special presentation of Buddha’s teachings, originally given by Atisha to the Tibetans. At that time there was confusion amongst the Tibetans about what Buddha had taught. Some people rejected parts of the Dharma while others practised black magic while believing it was Dharma.
Atisha came to Tibet and clarified all their confusion by presenting the Dharma in terms of the Lamrim.
I thought about the skill and wisdom of Atisha, to have mastered all the Dharma and to be able to devise a presentation which not only included all the teachings of Buddha, but also showed perfectly how they relate to each other in a way that makes them easy to understand and practice.
I thought about the cycle of Lamrim, and as I thought about going around and around the meditations in order, an image arose of the Lamrim as a golden ring, a golden yoke. I thought about the blind turtle with the golden yoke around its neck. I imagined being the turtle and as the golden yoke passed around my neck, I sped up like the turtles in Finding Nemo (I am afraid this one went a bit trippy on me…) I felt like I was progressing on my spiritual path because of the Lamrim, cycling around and around, my mind becoming increasingly pure and free from delusion.
I focused on this feeling of my mind becoming more and more pure. The feeling filled me.
After a while, I wondered what this meant in light of the exchanging self with others. This practice means that we abandon self cherishing and cherish only others. For life after life we have been a slave to our self-cherishing mind, believing that the way to be happy is to put ourselves before everyone else. But now is the time to realise that it just does not work. Now is the time to cherish only others.
I thought about what this means in terms of the Lamrim. Exchanging self with others is an outward focused act. It is not just about keeping virtuous thoughts and avoiding non-virtuous actions – it is about actively cherishing others and putting their happiness before our own. It seemed to me that this act was almost like the points on a railway track, where the practitioner connects with others and directly looks towards others for further progress. With this in mind, I returned to my feeling of making progress on the spiritual path, and tried to keep it firmly held in my mind.
May the virtues I have collected from meditating on the Lamrim and exchanging self with others ripen upon all other living beings, and through this may they abandon self-cherishing, cherish others as supreme, and quickly attain the enlightened state of the Buddhas.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to always think of others before myself, and keep a good thought towards all living beings.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate the pure wish to cherish others, and then to meditate on this wish in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.
I began with calming my mind with breathing meditation before moving on to the main meditation.
I started by remembering that everything I perceive has a cause. Nothing exists through its own power, but from the power of a previous condition. What is the cause of my human body? What is the cause of my good conditions? What is the cause of my having found Dharma? The causes of these conditions are my previous virtuous actions.
What shall I do with these conditions? I shall use it to create further causes for good fortune. I shall create the causes for happiness for all living beings by cherishing all living beings. I felt a strong wish to cherish others and to hold them supreme. I felt like I was holding them in my hands and lifting them up and holding them as supreme. I focused on this feeling for a while.
After a while I decided to look at what this feeling meant in light of the practice of exchanging self with others. To exchange self with others is to cherish them as supreme and to abandon self-cherishing. Clearly, the two are intrinsically linked and interdependent. With the prospect of bringing the practice of exchanging self with others, I returned to the meditation object and focused on it for the remainder of the session.
May all living beings understand that the actual method for becoming happy is to work for the happiness of others, and with this motivation may they become enlightened for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to keep my feeling of holding others as supreme for the rest of the day.
I have had such a lovely time, I can’t begin to tell you! I met some old friends and caught up on their news, and I met a whole bunch of new friends too. Someone even managed to guess my identity and say ‘You’re Vide Kadampa aren’t you?’!! Well that caught me off guard! Of course I confessed, and they kindly agreed to keep my little secret, for which I am very grateful.
All visitors to the Festival (over 3000), from all over the world, all had one thing in common – a love of pure Dharma. My favourite thing was to sit down next to someone in the dining tent and just smile and say ‘Can I ask you a Dharma question?’ Without fail they smiled back and said something like ‘Sure!’
Where else can you do that?!
On the way back home in the car I was talking to a good friend and he said that he had not realised quite how much he missed being in the company of fellow Kadampas – fellow spiritual travellers all following the same path. Normally in our every day lives, we are around people who are not on our spiritual wavelength. When we get to evening meditation classes we start to find people who we feel more comfortable with. But when we come to a Dharma Festival or Celebration, we are among people who are deeply on our spiritual wavelength, and there is an undeniable feeling of being amongst the closest of family. I found the festival to be deeply nourishing and wholesome.
Every moment I was there was filled with meaning. When I looked at all the people working voluntarily to make the festival work, I rejoiced from the depths of my heart. Working for others (in my case, a bit of food carrying this year) was incredibly satisfying. Seeing so many ordained people providing a good example was truly inspiring. Just being in Manjushri itself reminded me of the years of hard work put in by hundreds (if not thousands) of volunteers.
And the temple itself – well – words almost fail me. Such a sublimely beautiful temple. Modelled on Heruka’s Mandala, every aspect of it has meaning. As I gazed around its columns, walls and roofs, I saw its meaning and it almost moved me to tears.
My whole festival experience was spent in the company of gentle, caring and loving people, and that surely is the true sign of the Kadampas. People who are putting Buddha’s teachings into practice in their every day lives – caring for others, considering others, working for others.
So I would like to thank, from the very depths of my heart, everyone at the New Kadampa Tradition for working so hard to make the Festival (and many others – just as special – throughout the world) happen. And none of this would be happening at all if it were not for Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Thank you Geshe-la.
p.s? for more about Kadampa Festivals, read this blog post written by Luna Kadampa.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong wish to abandon self-cherishing by contemplating it’s disadvantages, and then to meditate on this in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.
I began with a practice I was shown at the Summer Festival where we imagine our Guru as being the very essence of bliss and emptiness, and then dissolve him into our heart and experience his bliss and emptiness. I strongly imagined and believed that my Guru was in front of me, possessing these qualities. I then believed that he dissolved into my heart and mixed inseparably with my mind. As this happened, I allowed myself to be filled with his bliss and realisation of emptiness. It felt almost indescribable, but I’ll do my best: I felt a lovely, profound, tranquil feeling of the deepest peace. At the same time, all that appeared to my mind was the emptiness of all phenomena.
(Just a note to say that this is pretty much all I have been doing over the past five days, so I was very familiar with the idea and the feeling and it came very naturally. Normally it would take more work to get it going!)
After really enjoying this beautiful and meaningful feeling for a while.
I then moved my mind to the main contemplation, the disadvantages of self-cherishing. I thought about all the negative actions I engage in because of the demon of self-cherishing. He is like a smiling prison guard who opens the door to a cell of suffering, only to me it looks like a paradise. When I rush in of my own free will, he slams the door behind me and the cell instantly changes to a world of dissatisfaction and suffering. I developed the wish to be free from this prison guard of self-cherishing, this torturer who fools me again and again. I focused on this wish to be free, because if I can free myself from his deceptions, I can free myself and others from all our suffering.
I stayed with this wish for a while before asking myself what this means in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.
To me, the link was immediate – that the practice of exchanging my object of cherishing from myself to others depended directly on my wish to abandon my self-cherishing. They fitted together completely and perfectly. With this in mind, I returned to my wish to abandon self cherishing because this will enable me to attain the realisation of exchanging self with others. I focused on this for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings realise the folly of self-cherishing, and completely abandon it so that they may become fully enlightened beings who have the actual power to benefit all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to remember the harm my self-cherishing causes, and try to abandon it whenever I feel its presence.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong determination to abandon non-virtuous actions and only perform virtuous actions, and then to meditate on this in light of exchanging self with others.
I began with breathing meditation, focusing on increasingly subtle signs of breathing, until my mind was focused on just the slightest idea of the breath. I then decoupled my attention from even this thought, and floated free from any conceptual thought at all, enjoying a completely still and stable feeling.
From there, I began thinking about what this meditation means. My karma is like a shadow of my body. My shadow has a unique shape different from everyone else’s. It is also mine and no-one else’s. I have created my own karmic reservoir and it is mine to experience – no-one else’s. I am responsible for my karma – no-one else can give me it or take it away.
I thought about how I create karma. In actual fact, it is all about my intentions. If I intend to do something, then I will do it. Once I have decided to do something based on my intentions, I will do it and reap the karmic consequences.
I thought about the tenth commitment of training the mind: I will not follow delusions. If I follow delusions, I will commit negative actions, so I must watch my mind constantly and not follow delusions. I must abandon delusions as soon as then arise, and choose a different, virtuous path.
I got an image of being in a vast complex maze, where at each point there were a number of possible paths I could take. By looking at each path with wisdom I could see which ones led to broken bridges. If I take the paths that lead to broken bridges, I will fall to the level below. But if I take the paths with sound bridges, I rise up to a higher level. The different paths represented the different actions I could take at any moment in time. The broken bridges were non-virtuous actions which cause me to fall into lower realms. Sound bridges were virtuous actions which would lead me to higher realms.
I thought about this analogy, and how if I can use Buddha’s wisdom and blessings, I can find my path up and up to the highest level – to enlightenment.
I focused on this feeling of choosing my intention, not following delusions, and rising up by following a path of virtue. With this recognition, I let a pure and progressive feeling fill my mind, and I focused on it for a long while.
After that, I wondered what this meant in light of the practice of exchanging self with others. I realised that the choices I make each moment should be informed by abandoning self-cherishing and cherishing only others. I should abandon selfish actions, and also recognise that all phenomena are empty of inherent existence. Thereby I will abandon self cherishing and self grasping – the two causes of my creating negative intentions.
With this in mind, I refocused on not following delusions and watching my mind moment by moment. Once again I was filled with the feeling of careful, mindful progress to enlightenment, and I stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings understand the law of cause and effect, and recognise the implications fully, so that they may quickly abandon non-virtue, practice only virtue, purify their negativities, and swiftly rise up to the highest state of enlightenment.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to watch my mind constantly, remind myself not to follow delusions and to see everything as empty of inherent existence.
I will be taking a break in a special place for the next few days, and in order to focus completely on my spiritual practice, I will be taking a break from posting. See you when I get back. Love, Vide.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate a very strong feeling of going for refuge to the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. From there, we consider what this determination means in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.
I began with breathing meditation, starting with looking at the gross signs of my breath, such as the sound of my breath and the feel of my clothes as they move against my skin. After a while I looked for more subtle signs of my breath, such as the feeling of the air as it enters and leaves my nose. Again, after a while I simply focused on the idea of the breath and then finally I let go of that focus, and let my mind fill with a complete unfocused emptiness. I floated in the emptiness for a while, enjoying the complete absence of sensation and thought.
Following this, I started my main meditation by reminding myself of the value of my precious human life. I have such an amazing opportunity at the moment. An opportunity to make my life truly meaningful for myself and others. I then reminded myself that my life will soon be over. The years are flying by, and soon I will be reaching the end of my life, wondering where it all went.
I then thought about what I need to do with my life. I need to concentrate on making it meaningful. I need to receive the blessings of Buddha and the help of the Sangha so that I can build the Dharma Jewel in my mind. I focused on the feeling of going for refuge to Buddha. Through his compassionate intention and virtuous deeds, and my strong wish to rely upon him, I will receive his blessings. I felt his blessings rain down upon me and I focused on this feeling for a while.
I then thought about the Sangha – my spiritual friends. It occurred to me that my Sangha is everyone around me, not just my friends at my local Buddhist Centre. Everyone I meet can show me the truth of Dharma – all I need to do is observe their lives and their actions, and the truth of Dharma will be confirmed.
Finally I thought about the Dharma itself. The perfection of wisdom and compassion which I can slowly construct in my mind, and thereby become free from all suffering. I imagined the Dharma protecting me and setting me free from my current limited state.
Then I tried to bring these three thoughts together into a single wish to take refuge in the Three perfect Jewels. I felt like I was protected and pure, and I focused on this feeling for a while.
Finally, I thought about what this means in light of the practice of exchanging self with others. Strictly speaking, this practice involves the abandonment of self-cherishing and its replacement with the cherishing of others. But it struck me that in terms of going for refuge to the Three Jewels, I am abandoning my refuge in mundane objects as a source of protection from suffering, and replacing it with taking refuge in the supramundane objects: the Three Jewels. With the thought of this exchange of mundane for supramundane, I returned to my feeling of being protected by my taking refuge in the Three Jewels. Once the feeling was strong, I focused on it for the rest of my session.
May all living beings find the wisdom to turn away from the causes of suffering, and take refuge in the causes of protection, finally to attain the permanent protection of enlightenment, for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to always keep my refuge in my heart, and recognise all living beings as my kind Sangha, who are ready to teach me the truth of the Dharma.