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The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong wish to integrate our dharma practice into our daily life.

Mona LisaI began by making the appropriate preparations and then reviewed all my meditations on the preciousness of human life. It is precious, rare and meaningful. It is meaningful only if we use it to practice virtue.

When should we practice virtue? When the time is right? After we have sorted out everything else in our life? After we have done our ‘to do’ list of mundane tasks today? In the evening? Or do we wait till retreats or festivals? Sometimes, after I have done my meditation in the morning, I find myself thinking ‘Great – I’ve done my practice for today’! Is this the right way to think?

No – we need to bring our method practices and our wisdom practice into our life TODAY – all day. We don’t need to wait.

As Geshe-la says in Modern Buddhism:

There is no difference between Kadam Dharma and people’s everyday experiences’ and ‘… Kadam Dharma accords with people’s daily experience, it cannot be separated from daily life

I decided that my object today would be to imagine that instead of my practice of virtue being ‘here’ and my day being ‘there’, that I would bring them together and realise that today, and my experiences today are my practice, coupled with my actions in relation to them. After a while of thinking about this, I felt a lovely feeling of non-duality between my self, my practice and my day. I decided to make today my masterpiece – try as hard as I can to mix dharma and my experiences completely, and make every day my practice. I focused on this for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings realise the preciousness of their human lives, and through their everyday experiences, practice dharma purely to attain the ultimate supreme goal: enlightenment for the sake of all living beings.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will see how often I can knowingly practice the six perfections and the Lamrim minds – my personal rules are that it only counts if I know I am practising virtue deliberately at the time and I dedicate the merit to all living beings.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong feeling that we identify with the emptiness of our Buddhanature.

I began by making the appropriate preparations and then moved on to think about the ultimate supreme goal of human life.

At the moment I think of myself as a human with a fleshy body. I identify with it, and with my ordinary mind, full of delusions. I think ‘this is me’.

girl on rocksMy precious human life gives me the opportunity to turn all this on its head. I can identify with my pure Buddhanature instead. I focused on the calm peaceful feeling at my heart that I established in my breathing meditation, and identified that as my Buddhanature – my pure potential. I tried to exist in that feeling, and keep my mind focused on it.

I then reminded myself that this Buddhanature is completely lacking in any inherent existence – it does not exist in any way except as its emptiness. The bottom seemed to drop out of the feeling, and it became completely all encompassing and nowhere at the same time. I tried to keep my mind mixed with that state for the rest of the meditation, and when I forgot the feeling, I re-established it by going through the thought process again.

Dedication

May all living beings realise their full potential through their precious human lives.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to identify with my Buddhanature, and the emptiness of my Buddhanature, which are the same entity.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate a vivid wish to use our precious human life for virtue.

I began by making the appropriate preparations and then started by remembering my previous contemplations of my human life. It is precious because it has special endownments and freedoms. It is rare – I have only the one, and when it is over, I will lose all my freedoms and endowments. It could also be very meaningful, if I use it to attain the highest spiritual goal.

ViolinsI thought of my life being like a priceless Stradivarius violin. If I recognise its special qualities and learn to play it correctly, I could make the most exquisite music. But if I do not recognise its special qualities, I could use it for inappropriate purposes – for firewood for example!! Or, I might recognise its preciousness and rareness, but not take advantage of them – like putting the violin into a glass case.

No – I will learn to play my violin, and make the sublime music I know we are all capable of making. And I will not stop until we are all making beautiful music together.

I will use my precious human life for the practice of virtue – the quality which all the Lamrim objects share.

I settled on the wish to use my precious human life for virtue, and tried to keep the object clearly in my attention for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise the significance of their human life, and use it for virtue.

Practice in the Meditation Break

As with yesterday, I will try to identify with the virtuous minds of the Lamrim, and always let my mind be filled with virtuous thoughts.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the wish to impute our ‘I’ upon the Lamrim, and actually believe that we have abandoned our normal states of mind and are completely mixed with the Lamrim.

I began by making the appropriate preparations before moving on to the main meditation.

peaceI thought about how the Lamrim objects are components of a perfect mind. Each of the objects is an action which will take us to enlightenment. I thought about them all, and it seemed to me that they boiled down to four main minds – renunciation, bodhichitta, emptiness and reliance upon a Spiritual Guide.

I then thought that without my precious human life, I would not be able to know about these minds, or be able to generate them. My precious human life gives me access to these special thoughts. I contemplated how fortunate I am to have a precious human life which gives me access to the Lamrim.

I then thought about how my aim is to replace all my normal faulty thoughts with Lamrim thoughts. If I am confronted with an angry person, instead of generating anger myself, I should focus on cherishing love. If I find myself becoming attached to things, I should remember emptiness and impermanence.

I imagined my mind had become completely mixed with renunciation, bodhichitta, emptiness and reliance, and I kept going through them one at a time until they merged into one ‘Lamrim’ realisation. I believed strongly that this was my mind and this was ‘me’. It felt really wonderful. I felt like I had completely changed my mind into a pure light, and I identified with this light. It was lovely, and I focused on it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings gather the Lamrim minds until they can impute their ‘I’ upon a completely pure mind.

Practice in the Meditation Break

For as long as I can, I will check to see what mind I am using in situations, and switch to a Lamrim mind instead.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate a sincere wish to give our precious human life great meaning by using it to attain liberation and enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings.

I began with the appropriate preparations.  I then started my contemplation by considering that the best use of my human life is that attainment of liberation from samsara, and enlightenment which will give me the ability to help all living beings without exception.

Laughing girlI could use my human life to attain worldly goals – money, power, possessions, experiences such as holidays. If my human life were to be used solely for these purposes, for their own sake, then it would be an ultimately pointless life. All these things will abandon me when I die, if not before. In our constant search for happiness in samsara, we try to achieve all manner of worldly goals, but they cannot prevent our suffering nor the suffering of others. Many people do not know Dharma, and so do not know there is an alternative. Due to my precious human life, with its freedoms and endowments, I know a way to liberate myself from suffering, and furthermore, I can attain an even higher goal – enlightenment, which will give me the ability to help all living beings become permanently free from their suffering. What could be more meaningful than this?

I focused on the four points of a) I will use, b) my precious human life, c) and give it great meaning, d) by attaining liberation and enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings. I repeated these four thoughts again and again until they became one thought, and then out of this came a wish to achieve this by practising Dharma purely and constantly. I felt this wish fill me and flow through me. I focused on this for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings give meaning to their lives by practising Dharma purely, attaining liberation and attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to constantly remember my wish to practice Dharma, and do so within all my actions of body, speech and mind.

The purpose of this meditation is to focus on the rareness of our human life and make the determination not to waste even a second.

I began by making the appropriate preparations and then considered how my life is rare. This seems to go against my normal view, because my life – my experience – is everything – it is all encompassing. My life is all I have ever known. It is everything I know. My life, my world, my experiences – they all seem anything but rare.

But when I think deeper, I can see that I only have this one life, with all its special freedoms and endowments. When this life is over, I cannot buy another one, no matter how great a capitalist economy may be. I cannot borrow one, or ask death for another one. It will be completely and utterly gone.

archery targetI don’t have many lives going on at the same time. In a laboratory, a scientist may have many parallel experiments under way, in the hope that while most may fail, one may succeed. I have only one experiment – and I have to make this one succeed.

In terms of my many lifetimes, this life is a tiny fraction of the time I have lived, and yet it is such a rare life in terms of the conditions I have. So many of the other lives have been spent wandering in spiritual darkness and meaningless suffering.

With all this in mind, I settled on the thought that I need to make this life  count, because I only have one shot at success – at Buddhahood. I focused on this feeling of only having one chance, and this resulted in the determination arising to make every moment count. I rested my mind on this determination for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise the rarity of their precious human life, and make the most of it while they have the chance.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will bear in mind the fact that when this life comes to an end, it will be over completely, and that I need to make every day – every moment – count.

The purpose of this meditation is to make the firm determination to practice Dharma so we can take advantage of the co-incidence of many conditions which make Dharma practice possible for us.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then setted down to think about all the conditions which I have which mean that I can practice Dharma.

I have been born into a stable time without war and other disruption. I have been born in a place which is free from famine and starvation. I am free from poverty and from great riches, both of which would make it difficult to practice Dharma initially. I have a relatively healthy body and mind. I have been born at a time when there is Dharma in the world. I am open minded, which allowed me to look into Dharma with a balanced view, rather than rejecting it out of hand, as many of my acquaintances do. I am in a place where there are Dharma centres, teachers and friends. I have access to Dharma books and information on the internet.

Dharna BridgeI thought about all these conditions and was aware of many more. They have all come together like parts of a bridge. In previous lives these parts have been absent, or perhaps not correctly aligned at the same time. But now, here, in this place, all the conditions are right for me to practice Dharma.

I also recognised that these conditions indicate that my precious human life is dependent-related: it depends on all these other conditions in order for it to function as the opportunity to practice Dharma. In that way, it lacks any existence of its own, but is in fact empty of inherent existence.

I then imagined that I was someone who DOES take advantage of these special circumstances. Someone who DOES practice Dharma continuously. I imagined being someone whose every action is mixed with wisdom, compassion and concentration. I heart was filled with a lovely feeling of being mixed with Dharma practice, and I could imagine all my actions being mixed with Dharma. It was very pleasant, and I settled on this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings experience the co-incidence of conditions conducive to Dharma practice, and having recognised their opportunity, may they cross the bridge of Dharma to enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remember Dorje Shugden in my everyday life – and mix Dharma with all my actions – making virtuous intentions before all my actions, and dedicating my merit to others.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a deep familiarity with the understanding that we now have a precious human life.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation.

After settling my mind, I moved on to consider my current circumstances. All my conditions are right for Dharma practice. My body, my family, my house, my job, my teachers, the NKT, my Dharma friends, this blog… everything is right. Some of these things may normally be perceived as problems, but for me they are perfect for Dharma practice.

To use a favourite image of Kadampa Ryan, all these conditions are like waves on an ocean of emptiness. At the moment, certain waves have risen out of the ocean of my root mind, and are appearing conventionally as perfect conditions for Dharma practice. I am very fortunate because I can ‘see’ these conditions directly with my sense awarenesses. If they were not manifest in this way, they would be hidden, and I would have no opportunity to practice Dharma.

Golden LadderIt seemed to me that all these condtions were like a golden ladder, with each one of them being a rung – a rung that I can use to climb out of samsara. I imagined a golden ladder in front of me, and understood that each rung was really one of my perfect conditions for Dharma practice. But the ladder won’t climb itself! I need to use each rung to climb up.

I focused for a while on my precious human life being like a golden ladder, with all my conditions being like the rungs, and generated a real appreciation for my current good fortune.

After a while I decided to focus more on what I want to do – what conclusion do I reach?

At the moment I have this ladder within reach. I need to interact with each rung in order to climb out of samsara. In my normal life, I need to interact with each person, each situation in such a way that my virtues and realisations increase. I need to climb the virtuous ladder out of my samsara!

I settled on this wish to use all my daily experiences as methods to climb out of samsara, and tried to keep my mind from wandering away from it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings see the preciousness of their human life, and use every opportunity to climb out of samsara

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will offer every drink, dedicate every action and keep my commitments so I can climb the ladder of good fortune as quickly as possible.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate joy and a sense of deep appreciation for the opportunity our precious human life affords us, and then to consider what this opportunity means in light of the practice of giving.

I began by dissolving my Guru into my heart and relaxing both my body and mind by focusing on his meditative equipoise, his stillness and his stability. I imagined these qualities filling my own mind, and experienced something of what it might feel like. It was wonderfully tranquil, and I remained there for a while.

I then moved on to consider my precious human life. I considered the different realms of samsara, and the conditions of the beings that inhabit those realms. The gods are so separate from suffering that they feel no need to escape from samsara. The demigods are so consumed with jealously that they cannot think of anything else but the acquisition of more resources and possessions. Most humans are distracted by worldly activities. Animals are burdened with great confusion and lack of control over their lives. Hungry ghosts and hell beings are so tortured with constant suffering that they cannot think of anything except their own plight.

As I toured the six realms, I grew to appreciate my own circumstances. I have no major external circumstances which separate me from Dharma. I have no internal obstacles which prevent me from developing faith in Dharma. I have experienced enough contact with Dharma to believe that no matter what happens in the future, I will not lose this faith. I thought about these circumstances and I developed a deep sense of joy that I have somehow managed to find such a fortunate and meaningful life, with such potential. I focused on this feeling of joy, and let it fill me. It was wonderful and inspiring.

After a while, I wondered what this meant in light of giving.

My human life is the platform for my practice of giving. My human life is the platform for all my activities, Dharma and non-Dharma alike. But with wisdom, I can transform all my activities into Dharma activities by mixing them with the six perfections, including giving. Giving love, fearlessness, material help and Dharma are only possible through the vehicle of my human life.

I thought about these points and developed a sort of ‘double joy’ – firstly that I have a human life with its freedoms and endowments, and secondly that I can use it to give so much benefit to others. I focused on this enhanced sense of joy, and stayed within it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings trapped in the prison of samsara quickly attain a precious human life, and through this engage in Dharma practice to quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remain mindful of my precious human life and practice giving both mentally and physically where appropriate.

The purpose of this meditation is to recognise the preciousness of our present human life, and then to meditate on this preciousness in terms of exchanging our self-cherishing with cherishing others.

I began with some breathing meditation, imagining that my mind was becoming steadily more and more clear with each breath. I imagined it becoming like a vast clear crystal, completely pure and faultless. Once I had a good mental image of this, I let my mind fill with the feeling of becoming this crystal, and I felt a very clear, expansive feeling, which I stayed with for a while.

I then moved on to think about something I take for granted most of the time. My Spiritual Guide tells me that my life is precious, rare and meaningful. He says that my life is precious because it has all the conditions needed for spiritual growth, and none of the hindrances which would prevent this growth. It is rare because these circumstances are not shared by the majority of people. Just look at the numbers of people who attend Dharma classes compared with the number of people who are living! Finally, my life is meaningful in the sense that I have the opportunity to practise Dharma now to free myself and others from the suffering of samsara – what could be more meaningful than that?

I considered these aspects of my life, and then brought to mind my poor mother of this life. She is now suffering badly from Alzheimer’s, and all she can do now is sit in a chair in the care home and respond to very simple questions. She can’t feed or dress herself, or do any of the other basic actions we all take for granted.

What meaning does her life have? She did many wonderful things, and collected many beautiful possessions, but what lasting benefit are they to her now? She sits in her care home having forgotten just about everything of this life.

I thought about this and I decided that I really need to seize the opportunity I have in this life – I need to value the preciousness of my human life and never forget it. I focused on this idea of my precious human life, and I felt a great appreciation for it. I felt very fortunate, and I tried to focus on this feeling of appreciation for a while.

Following this, I decided to see what this meant in light of exchanging self with others.

My precious human life gives me the opportunity to exchange self with others. Without this life, I would not have learnt about this practice or be able to implement the teachings. With this recognition, I returned to my feeling of appreciation for my human life, and remained with it filling my mind for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise the preciousness, rarity and meaning of their lives, and utilise their opportunity to attain the highest achievement for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to never forget my precious opportunity, and remember how fortunate I am.

How to Understand the Mind

All my meditations come from this book - click the image to learn more

Modern Buddhism

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