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The purpose of this meditation is to generate a wonderful feeling of everyone in the universe experiencing happiness and freedom, and then to contemplate what this means in light of the advantages of cherishing others.
I began with breathing meditation, keeping my mind focused on a calmness at the centre of my attention, and bringing it back when it got distracted. Slowly, slowly my mind became more tranquil, until I was satisfied it was calm enough to move on.
I then imagined all the beings in samsara – all the sentient beings in all six realms. I recognised that they cannot find true happiness. I said to myself: ‘Everyone in samsara seeks pure happiness, but no-one can find it. How wonderful it would be if everyone could experience pure happiness. I, myself will give them pure happiness right now’. I then imagined that my body transformed into a wishfulfilling jewel and radiated pure white light across space. Light rays from my heart reached all living beings, and the moment they were touched by this light, they experienced pure happiness.
I imagined what it felt like for them. It was like a pure, warm, free feeling – a feeling they have never experienced before: satisfaction and joy. I felt this feeling too and then imagined it multiplied countless times. I remained focused on this feeling for a while.
I then wondered what this meant in light of the advantages of cherishing others.
In Joyful Path of Good Fortune Geshe Kelsang says that this practice of giving nourishes our potentialities to develop such powers in the future. This is surely an amazing advantage of cherishing others! With this in mind, I brought my mind back to the feeling of joy and satisfaction shared by all living beings, and focused my attention on it for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop their potentialities to give pure happiness to others, and in this way mature into an enlightened being for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will focus on others and wish them joy and satisfaction, and prompt freedom from samsara.
The purpose of this meditation is to reach a firm determination to put great effort into purifying negativities and accumulating virtuous potentialities in our minds, and then to contemplate this wish in the context of the sufferings of the lower realms.
I began the meditation by thinking about how the law of karma is the underlying mechanism of everything. Samsara operates following the rules of cause and effect, but karma extends beyond samsara: even Buddhas who are free from uncontrolled rebirth still exist in accordance with the law of karma.
My Spiritual Guide has revealed karma to me, and has explained that my future experiences are caused by my actions. I thought of the many future lives I have in store for me, pervaded by suffering. They already exist as potentialities in my mind. But if I perform purification practices, I can destroy these potentialities before they become manifest! I can do this by following simple practices explained by me kind Teacher! I can also accumulate vast positive potentialities by engaging in other simple practices. How wonderful!
I focused on a strong wish to engage in virtuous actions and to purify my negativities. I felt light and joyous, knowing that these actions will lead to me avoiding lower rebirths. I focused on this light and joyous feeling for a while.
I then thought about the sufferings of the lower realms, and in particular the experience of my recent meditation where I imagined I was a caged animal enduring immense suffering. I thought about all the future lives where this will be my fate, unless I purify those potentialities right now, while I have the chance.
I returned to my feeling of lightness and joy, believing that every time I engage in an act of purification I will destroy the potentiality for a life in a cage. Each time I do this is a cause for great joy. Therefore I made the very firm promise to remain mindful of my need to purify negativities, and destroy negative karma constantly throughout the day. I focused on this wish for the rest of the meditation and experienced great lightness and joy.
May all living beings understand the law of karma, find joy in virtue, and become Buddhas for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break.
My kind Teacher, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso gives a practice in which he advises us each morning to make a firm commitment to perform certain virtuous actions during that day. Then in the evening we should review our day and see if our we have been successful in our actions. If we have been successful we should joyously dedicate our merit to the freedom of all living beings. If we have not been successful we should strengthen our determination to carry our our wishes tomorrow. I will be doing this today.
Every time I perform a virtuous action I will dedicate the merit to the purification of my negativities and the freedom of all living beings. I will then generate joy! This is truly a Joyful Path!
The purpose of this meditation is to mentally take the suffering of all living beings and destroy my own self-cherishing, and then to meditate on this in the light of death and impermanence.
I began by remembering that all living beings have been my mother and have treated me with incredible kindness. They have cared for me more than they cared for themselves. They have sacrificed themselves for me many times, and wished only that I be happy. I felt very grateful towards them.
Then I remembered my compassionate wish for them to be free of the many sufferings which afflict them every moment of their lives. I decided that I would take their sufferings. I imagined all their suffering rising out of them in the aspect of black smoke, gathering in the space in front of me and condensing into my heart. As the smoke came towards me I recognised that all living beings are now free from suffering. I felt joy in my heart.
Then the smoke dissolved into my heart and destroyed my self-cherishing. All the pain and suffering caused by my self-cherishing came to an end instantly. I understood that both myself and others were completely free from suffering, and suffering will never again be experienced by any living being. I felt a joy arise again in my heart, and I stayed with this feeling for a while.
I then thought about what this means in the light of death and impermanence. Death destroys my opportunity to take the sufferings of others. Death will put an end to my spiritual practice. I decided I needed to practice Dharma purely, right now, and throughout my life. The joy I felt was flavoured with an urgency to practice hard before death comes. I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop the superior intention to take on the sufferings of others, and through this action become Buddhas for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
With compassion, I will try to alleviate the sufferings of others, and make prayers for those who I cannot help directly.
The purpose of this meditation is to learn how to put our wishing love into practice.
I began the meditation by remembering how all my kind mothers search, life after life, for happiness in samsara. I remembered the feeling of holding them from my previous meditation – comforting them as they realise that happiness cannot be found anywhere in samsara.
I thought of my deep wish to give them pure uncontaminated happiness. I imagined I had a vast accumulation of merit from previous positive actions and blessings. Triggered by my sincere wish to give all living beings pure happiness, my accumulation of merit manifested as a bright light at my heart, which instantly flashed out across the whole of samsara, bathing all living beings in light. As the light touched them, they experienced true, uncontaminated and permanent happiness.
I had a feeling of incredible peace and happiness, which was not just my happiness, but the happiness of all living beings. I experienced pure joy with them, and I remained with that feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings put their wishing love into practice, and become perfect Buddhas for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will give love, Dharma, fearlessness and material assistance where I can today. I will make myself of service to others, and where I cannot give to them directly, I will make prayers for them.
The purpose of this meditation is to take on others’ suffering in meditation.
In Geshe Kelsang Gyatso‘s recent book, Modern Buddhism, my kind teacher gives instructions on how to practice the taking in conjunction with the six perfections. He also makes it clear that the act of taking on others’ suffering in meditation is a method for destroying our own ignorance of self-grasping and self-cherishing.
I began the meditation by recalling my strong feeling of finding the suffering of others unbearable. I let my mind rest on this feeling for a while, and then I moved on. I decided that I needed to do something about all this suffering. I imagined a vast plain in front of me, filled with all the living beings trapped in samsara. I saw them all standing there, millions and millions of them.
I made the firm decision to take all their suffering from them. Thinking this was the cause of their suffering rising out of each and every one of them in the aspect of black smoke. I saw it leaving a few beings first, then more and more smoke rising into the air above them.
As the smoke left them, they became free from their suffering. They became free from ageing. No matter how old they were, they became young again, with youthful bodies in the prime of life. They became free from sickness. No matter how ill they were, their sickness left them and they became healthy. Their future sufferings also left their bodies. They were free from all their suffering, and would never experience suffering again. They were filled with joy, and I felt that joy in my heart. I stayed with that joy for a few minutes.
Then I focused on the black smoke. I caused it to roll across the plain towards me, gathering it into a funneling cloud. I made the smoke get more and more concentrated as it gathered in the space just in front of my chest. I imagined it folding in on itself, getting smaller and smaller until it was the size of a pea. I then brought it into my heart and it dissolved into my self-grasping ignorance and my self-cherishing. I felt my self grasping melt away. I realised that without self grasping there was no I to apprehend. I felt that all I was was mere name. Name cannot suffer. I felt completely free from suffering. I felt completely free and empty, profoundly joyous and open.
I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings practice taking on the sufferings of others, and through this become fully enlightened beings.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will mount taking on the breath, and practice it in conjunction with the six perfections.
I began the meditation once again by calling to mind the fact that all living beings have been my kind mother in the past, and that during that time they showed me immense kindness. I called to mind my gratitude to them.
Then I considered that they search desperately all their lives for true happiness, but they cannot find it. Instead they create the causes for future suffering, like a person eating supposedly wholesome food not realising it is laced with poison.
I generated the wish that they could all find permanent happiness. I then decided that I would personally ensure that each and every living being can find peace and happiness.
On the basis of this wish, my accumulated merit and the blessings of the holy beings, I visualised my body and mind transforming into a big clear diamond. I imagined a light in the centre of the diamond, growing stronger and stronger, lighting up the diamond from within. The light quickly became very bright, so that the diamond was lost in a mass of brilliant clear light. The light from my body and mind filled the whole of samsara, and instantly reached every single living being, giving them peace and happiness. I firmly recognised that this was happening, and that the rays of light were causing them to acheive peace and happiness.
I felt very light, full of clear, powerful pure light. I felt purity flowing through me and all of samsara into all living beings. I felt a profound joy.
I focused on this feeling for the rest of the meditation.
Something unexpected: As I did so, I recognised that I was connected directly to all living beings. I felt that the light from my body and mind revealed the connection between us all, and I felt close to and inseparable from all living beings. I brought this into my recongition.
Even now as I write, I can feel this light, and this connection to all living beings, and the profound joy of them all finding true inner peace.
Meditated as usual on my cushion in the living room, with my little shrine: Statue of Buddha, candle and pinch of rice. The shrine is put away, but the feeling remains.