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The purpose of this meditation is to go for refuge in three rounds, and to develop the special feeling of transforming our mind into the actual protection of a Dharma Jewel.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then began the first round of meditation.

I started by imagining that I was very ill, in hospital, lying in a bed. It was night time, and I realised that I was dying. It was a very private and personal experience as I felt my life slipping away. I thought – this is it – this is the end of this life. I felt it as if it were actually happening right now. I focused on the feeling for a while.

three jewelsI then thought about how I would enter my next life as if through a dream – although it would appear as real as this life. I am a pig. My pig face looks like this – my pig body looks and feels like this. This is my home – the floor is mud and covered with urine and excrement  I eat filthy scraps of food from the floor. I can grunt and push, but I cannot communicate much more that this. My pig life goes on until one day I find myself in a place that smells of death. The floor is hard and smells of chemicals. I am suddenly in a room alone with men. I feel my leg being pulled and suddenly I am upside down. I am terrified – I have never felt this before. I am swinging around. Then a man steps in front of me and plunges a knife into my chest. I feel excruciating pain in my chest and throughout my body. Blood pours out of my chest over my face – I can hear it splashing on the ground. Even before I am completely dead, they start to dismember my body. I am slit open and gutted. I am carved and chopped up. Some parts are thrown away. Some are fed to dogs. Others are minced into sausages or cut into chops, wrapped in cellophane and sold in shops. They are taken home and fried and humans eat them.

I thought about these points in the second round of meditation, and I felt horrible. What a dreadful way to live and to die – no spiritual progress at all – just suffering.

I thrn thought about the Three Jewels. Buddha Jewel shows me the way to practice virtue and purify negativity. Sangha Jewel helps me understand and remain on the path. The Dharma Jewel is my actual refuge. I can create Dharma Jewel in my mind, and slowly my mind will become the Dharma Jewel. The Dharma Jewel is the same continuum as my mind. Just as coal is in the same continuum as a diamond, so my black and unclean mind can become a pure, clear jewel. A Dharma Jewel cannot experience suffering, so when my mind becomes a Dharma Jewel, I will not be able to experience suffering – I will be free.

I repeated to myself – through reliance upon the Buddha Jewel and the Sangha Jewel, I can transform my mind into the Dharma Jewel. I focused on this and kept my mind of the feeling of my mind being a pure Dharma Jewel. It felt like I would actually achieve this, and experience complete freedom from suffering. I focused on this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings rely upon the Buddha and Sangha Jewels, and transform their minds into the pure Dharma Jewel.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to keep these three rounds of meditation in my mind today, and try to imagine my mind becoming a pure Dharma Jewel, incapable of suffering.

Just a quick entry today.

The meditation today was refuge practice. I regenerated my recognition that my life will definitely end, that that when it does, I will definitely have to face suffering. I focused on this for a while.

I then thought about refuge practice. If I go sincerely for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, remembering their good qualities and the differences between them, I can avoid the horrible fate of rebirth in the lower realms. It felt like the best news ever, and I felt sincere joy at the thought that I do not have to endure the sufferings of the lower realms.

I focused on this for the rest of the meditation.

The purpose of this meditation is to get a very stable feeling of developing pure body, speech and mind through reliance upon the Three Jewels, and then to bring in the notion that our kind Spiritual Guide can lead us to this state.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then I began by thinking of my previous meditation’s conclusion – the sincere dread of the sufferings of the lower realms. I let this horror fill my mind for a while, and then let a chink of hope enter my mind by turning my attention to the good qualities of Buddha.

BuddhaBuddha has a pure body which engages in pure virtuous acts. Buddha has pure speech which brings peace and happiness to all who hear it. Buddha has a pure mind, free from all delusion and obstruction.

I thought of how my Sangha friends can help me bring pure Dharma realisations into my life, and how I can become free from all non-virtue.

I thought about my body, and how I can stop my most gross non-virtuous actions like those of killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. I focused on my body becoming pure.

After a short time, I thought about my speech. I can stop my more subtle non-virtuous actions like those of harmful speech, divisive speech, lying and idle chatter. I focused on my speech becoming pure.

After a while, I moved on to think about my mind. I can stop my most subtle non-virtuous actions like those of covetousness, malice and all the wrong views. I focused on my mind becoming pure.

Then I brought these three purities together and imagined that though completing the practice of purifying my body, speech and mind through my refuge in the Three Jewels, I was free from the sufferings of lower rebirth. I would never have to undergo the death by a thousand cuts, or any other torturous death or suffering. It felt like a huge oppressive cloud had lifted from me, and I felt light and peaceful. I focused on this feeling, and its meaning for a while.

Finally, I moved on to the point that I can achieve this only through reliance upon my Spiritual Guide. By listening to his words I can purify my actions of body, speech and mind, and I can purify all my past negative actions. Though him, I can be free from the horrors of lower rebirth.

I brought all these aspects together and felt a lovely light, peaceful and relieved feeling, which I focused on for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

Through the virtues I have accumulated here, may all living beings find their Spiritual Guide, and find release from the risk of lower rebirth by taking his instructions to heart.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I am ok with my actions of body – I don’t kill, I don’t steal, and I don’t engage in sexual misconduct. But I have work to do in terms of my speech and my mind. I will try to follow my commitments to:

  • never speak about others’ faults
  • never think about other’s faults
  • not follow delusions
  • not retaliate to verbal abuse
  • not wait in ambush
  • not offend others

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a very strong wish to turn to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as the sources of protection and refuge from samsara’s sufferings, and then to see what this means in light of Bodhichitta.

I began by thinking about the meditation from yesterday, and all the other sufferings of samsara. I then quickly thought about where protection can be found – in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. I made the commitment to put great effort into this meditation today, so that it would take me closer to gaining the protection I need.

With that thought, I did some breathing meditation, relaxing my body and bringing my mind into my heart. I concentrated on a feeling of clarity, and that my mind was mixing with my Spiritual Guide’s clarity. It felt completely calm and clear, settled and still. I stayed with this stillness for a while.

I then moved on to the main meditation. I rekindled my meditation of yesterday, where I imagined a future life where I was similar to an animal being experimented on in some laboratory. I was experiencing great confusion, pain and fear. There was no help and no respite. Continual suffering. I looked at this for a while and developed sincere dread, because this will definitely happen to me.

I then mentally rewound time, like on a DVD, coming back to today, and this life. My actions now will decide if I end up in that laboratory. I know what I need to do – I need to turn to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for protection against such a future.

I looked to Buddha, and recognised that I am like a sick man, plagued with the disease of delusions. Buddha is the supreme physician, who knows my disease and knows exactly how to cure me. His Dharma is the medicine for my sickness, and if I turn to him, I can learn and take this medicine. The Sangha are the spiritual community who can help me understand the medicine, and give me practical help. I resolved to turn to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to protect me from the suffering that will definitely happen.

I focused on these thoughts, and it felt like the waves of my faith were washing me into the arms of Buddha. My weak and pathetic body and mind were bourne into his arms, which supported me and protected me from the sufferings of the ocean of samsara. I concentrated on the feeling of being in the arms of Buddha, and being protected by his wisdom and compassion. I focused on this for a long while. It was humbling.

I then turned my thoughts to what this means in terms of Bodhichitta – the wish to become a Buddha for the benefit of all.

I turn to Buddha for protection. What am I doing while in his protection? I am learning to protect myself from suffering – this is the process of becoming a Buddha myself. I turn to Buddha for refuge, and my aim is to become an object of refuge myself. I thought about how wonderful this is, and then returned to the feeling of being protected from suffering by my strong faith and refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Dedication

May all living beings turn to the Three Jewels for protection from samsara’s suffering, and may they become objects of refuge quickly, for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will imagine myself in the protection of Buddha, constantly taking the medicine of Dharma, and being helped by my Sangha.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong feeling of going for protection to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and then to see what this means in light of great compassion.

I began by dissolving my Guru into my heart and letting my mind fill with his experience of love and emptiness. Once I had established this firmly I focused on it until my mind was fairly still, and ready to move on to the next phase of the meditation.

I began by bringing to mind a visualisation I have been using for some time during the Prayers (which I do before the meditation itself). I imagine that there is a vast waterfall extending from horizon to horizon, but instead of water moving over the edge and plunging down into darkness, it is living beings.

The scene represented billions of living beings living their lives in ignorance of the nature of samara. As they live their lives, they move towards the edge of the cliff. The moment they die is the moment they reach the edge of the cliff. After death come results of karma and they plunge into the lower realms.

But there is one bridge sticking out from the cliff. I struggle through the crowds of people towards it, always moving closer to the edge as I do so, swept along by the relentless tide of people. Some people are calling me over towards the bridge and I follow their instructions. I imaging getting to the bridge, which is very narrow and has no handrails, and joining a line of people moving along it. I walk out across empty space and at the end of the bridge is a platform where there is Guru Sumati Buddha Heruka, representing all Three Jewels. He is radiating bright light which fills the universe. I sit before him and I imagine that that is where I actually am. All the while, I am aware of the billions of living beings pouring over the edge of the cliff around me.

The bridge represents my refuge practice, which protects me from lower rebirth. I gradually let this image sink into my mind, and I felt a deep feeling of good fortune, humbleness and appreciation. My refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha will protect me from lower rebirth. I focused on this feeling for a while…

After some time, I thought about what this means in terms of great compassion. I immediately thought of the billions of living beings plunging into the lower realms. I want to help them, but I cannot help them if I, myself, am falling into the lower realms with them, with no control. Through my refuge practice, I am opening the door to my spiritual practice, and my developing great compassion, which in turn will lead me to have the ability to help all living beings without exception.

I returned to my place on the platform in front of Guru Sumati Buddha Heruka, and focused on the wish to go for refuge to the Three Jewels for the sake of all living beings. I looked at this wish for the rest of the meditation…

Dedication

May all living beings quickly find their way to protection from the lower realms, and from this firm ground, quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will go for refuge throughout the day, and keep in my heart the wish to help all living beings.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the sincere wish to rely upon our Spiritual Guide, and then to meditate on this wish in light of the practice of exchanging self with others.

I started with some breathing meditation, relaxing the various parts of my body in turn with each breath, until my body was completely relaxed. I then focused on my mind being like an ocean of water, slowly becoming calm and clear, settled and still. I enjoyed the feeling of tranquillity for a while and then moved on to the main meditation.

I went through the benefits of relying upon a Spiritual Guide, and on reflection it seemed to me that there was a strong link between these benefits and the first benefit of Going for Refuge – we become a pure Buddhist.

In order to make my life meaningful I will rely upon the guidance and example of my Spiritual Guide.  He will lead me along the path to enlightenment and I will make my life meaningful and overcome my problems. I will draw closer to enlightenment by receiving his blessings, and I will delight all the Buddhas. He will protect me from harm from humans and non-humans, and I will find it easy to abandon delusions. My practical experience of the path will increase and I will be held back from lower rebirths. I will always meet my Spiritual Guide in future lives and all my virtuous wishes will be fulfilled.

As I thought about these benefits, it seemed to me that they all led to my becoming a pure Buddhist. This is what I want more than anything else because of the benefits it will give myself and others. I am not a pure Buddhist at the moment – far from it – but I know what I want to be, and my trying to understand my Guru’s instructions and by emulating his pure example, I will slowly become a pure Buddhist.

I focused on this idea of becoming a pure Buddhist by sincerely relying upon my Spiritual Guide, and a feeling of progress, protection and purity filled my mind. I tried to keep this special feeling with my mindfulness and attention for as long as possible.

After a while I decided to think about what this means in light of the practice of exchanging self and others. To become a pure Buddhist means to  practice all the stages of the path appropriate to our capacity, with the aspiration to become more qualified as time goes by. Through the practice of exchanging self with others we will exchange our self-cherishing for the cherishing of our Spiritual Guide, and instead of relying upon our pathetic, deluded mind, we will instead rely upon his stainless omniscient mind of wisdom and compassion. Through his great kindness and example, we will enter, progress along and complete the spiritual path.

With this link in mind, I returned to my wish to become a Pure Buddhist by relying upon my Spiritual Guide, who is so kind.

Dedication

Through the virtues I have collected by meditating on reliance upon the Spiritual Guide, may all living beings have the great good fortune to find a qualified Spiritual Guide who can lead them along the path to enlightenment, for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to keep my Spiritual Friend in mind all day, and rely upon him by following his practical example and by putting his instructions into practice.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a very strong feeling of going for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as the solution to all our problems, and then to contemplate this feeling in the light of the fact that all living beings are our mother.

I began the meditation by doing a breathing meditation, and for once my mind found its balance quite quickly and I enjoyed quite a long period of having a very calm and peaceful mind – settled and still.

I continued through to the main meditation after a while.

I began by thinking about the two causes of going for sincere refuge – fear and faith.

In terms of fear, thought about how, when I die, I will pass through a process where everything will change. My basis for the imputation of my ‘I’ will change completely. All my ‘external’ circumstances will change, and I will probably lose my path. I thought about this ‘resetting’ of my life and I felt a very sincere wish to do as much as I can now, before my death comes. When my death comes, I will lose this precious human life and this precious opportunity.

Then I thought about my faith. It may sound odd, but I do not think of myself as a religious person. I don’t think of my faith as being a religious faith. My faith is a rational faith. I am a Buddhist because I think that the ideas that are presented in Buddhism are true. Therefore, for me, to be a Buddhist simply means to be someone who follows what is true. In all the time that I have studied and practised my path, I have not come across one single instruction which would cause myself or others harm. In all the books, in all the teachings I have attended, in all the conversations I have had with teachers, I have only encountered instructions which would cause happiness and release from suffering for myself or others if they were put into practice.

I have practised for more than 10 years, and I have never encountered harmful instruction. That’s pretty special. Special enough for me to know that I will devote my whole life to this path.  What is this path, who revealed it and who can help me follow it? It is surely the Dharma, Buddha and the holy Sangha.

On the basis of my fear of losing my path and on my total faith in the Three Jewels, I felt a deep yearning to move to the Three Jewels for my protection and my salvation. I felt like I was moving towards the Three Jewels and becoming mixed with them. It struck me that the Three Jewels are not external objects, but (because of our shared emptiness) we are one and the same.

I remembered a phrase I heard recently ‘Be the change you want to see’. I want to be the Three Jewels – I want to see the change in myself and others that the Three Jewels can produce. I felt like I was turning to the Three Jewels, and mixing completely with them at the same time. It felt lovely and wonderful. I remained with this feeling for a while.

When the time came, I moved on to think about what this means in the light of the fact that all living beings are my mother.

Why am I going for refuge? It is so that I can become an Enlightened Being for the benefit of all my kind mothers. I and all my kind mothers will turn to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for our release from suffering and for our attainment of pure lasting happiness. It is the path for everyone – we will all be equal in the end, no matter what our different characteristics at the moment. It was a wonderful thought, and with this I returned to my feeling of being mixed with the Three Jewels for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings turn to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for their refuge from suffering, and be released from Samsara’s prison for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will keep in mind my wish to turn to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and try to be the change I want to see.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the beautiful mind of cherishing others, and then to meditate on this thought in the light of our refuge practice.

I began by thinking over a small section of the contemplation given by Geshe Kelsang in the book The New Meditation Handbook. He says that by having a mind that cherishes others, our life can be peaceful, happy, harmonious and meaningful. I thought about these advantages. It seems like a lot of results from just one thought! A bit later Geshe-la says that by cherishing others we will show the best example of pure Dharma practice.

I thought about how wonderful this is. The BEST example of PURE Dharma practice is given simply by cherishing others. Normally to be the BEST at something we have to have very special circumstances. If we want to be the best runner we have to eat special food and train constantly. We also have to have perfect health and be within a certain age range. If we want to be the best in a particular profession, we must have talent and flair to begin with, coupled with years of experience. But to give the BEST example of PURE Dharma practice all we need as a prerequisite is a mind that cherishes others! Black, white, man, woman, old, young, healthy, unhealthy – it doesn’t matter what your background is. EVERYONE can show the best example of Dharma practice by cherishing others.

It seemed so beautiful that this is open to everyone to achieve.

I decided to think about how Je Tsongkhapa feels when he cherishes others. I asked myself – what would it feel like. Immediately I felt a very warm friendly feeling, which delighted in the prospect of helping others. I felt like I could go through my life and be delighted every time I met another person, thinking ‘how wonderful – someone to cherish’! In this way my life would be completely filled with peace, happiness,harmony and meaning. I kept my mind on this feeling for a while – it was very very nice!

Then I decided to think about what this means in the light of my refuge practice. By going for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha I am saying that they are my ultimate source of inspiration and guidance. Buddha has perfect realisations, including the mind of cherishing others. So by going for refuge what I am doing is saying ‘Buddha, you have perfect realisations – I want to have them too. Please help me gain these perfect realisations’. I stayed with this feeling of refuge and cherishing others for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings cherish everyone they meet and think about, and thereby become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will cherish others, and be delighted to meet each and every person. Those I know I will cherish openly in appropriate ways. Those I do not know I will cherish by putting Je Tsongkhapa at their heart and dedicating the merit to keeping him there throughout all their lives until they attain enlightenment.

Meditation 4/12

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a warm and friendly feeling of equanimity towards all living beings, and then to meditate on this feeling in the light of our refuge practice.

I began by thinking about how Geshe Kelsang beings his contemplation of this subject in The New Meditation Handbook.

He says that our normal view of others makes no sense. At the very beginning of the Great Scope set of meditations he strikes at the very foundation of our normal view of others and points out that it fundamentally makes no sense.

What makes no sense? Our normal attitudes towards other people.

Normally we see some people as attractive, some as unpleasant and most as irrelevant. On this basis we develop attachment to some, aversion to others and indifference to the rest. As such, depending on who we meet or think about, our mind swings wildly between attachment, aversion and indifference.

But someone who is the cause of our attachment may well cause aversion in the minds of others, and vice versa. Who is ‘right’? If we think our view is ‘right’, what makes it right? The fact that it is ‘our view’? Is that what makes it right? Then equally the view of others is ‘right’ because it is ‘their view’. As Geshe Kelsang says, it makes no sense.

I thought about this for a while and came to agree with Geshe Kelsang that these views of others are not valid or sustainable. What to do? We should purposely adopt the MOST BENEFICIAL attitude towards others, which is a warm and friendly attitude. This will protect my mind from the wild involuntary swings between the three vertices of attachment, aversion and indifference.

I felt like my mind was a mountain range seen in silhouette, with great peaks and deep valleys. Slowly it equalised with the peaks falling and the valleys rising, until there was a smooth flat horizon of equanimity – and a feeling of warmth and friendliness directed towards all living beings.

It struck me about how we all carry so much emotional baggage caused by our memories of people we have known. Strong attachment still arises in my mind when I think of some people from long ago, who I have not seen in decades. Again, strong aversion arises in my mind when I think of some people who I have not seen since I was in school. Even after all these years, they still have the power to disrupt my mind! I brought this aspect in and applied the warm and friendly feeling not only to all living beings now, but everyone in my past too. The feeling seemed to extend throughout time and space, and filled my mind – I stayed with that for a while.

I then thought about what this means in the light of my refuge practice. My refuge practice means that I trust the Three Jewels to be my fundamental refuge from suffering. Equanimity is the practice of Dharma taught by Buddha and demonstrated by Sangha. Therefore if I truly go for refuge then I must practice equanimity. I felt a deeper determination to practice equanimity, and returned to my feeling of a flat, equally warm, friendly feeling, which I remained with for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings reach the common sense conclusion that the only wise attitude to hold towards other living beings is one of equanimity, and thereby become an enlightened being for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I have a busy day today. I will be a ‘responsible adult’ at my daughter’s swimming party, looking after about 30 8-year-olds in a swimming pool along with a couple of other dads. Plenty of opportunity to practice there, methinks!

Meditation 4/6

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a strong wish to purify negativities and accumulate merit, and then to meditate on this wish in the light of our refuge practice.

I began the meditation by recalling the lines from The New Meditation Handbook which say that we can inhabit a pure land with a pure body and pure enjoyments by purifying our mind. Samsara is nothing more than the projections of an impure uncontrolled mind. If we control and purify our mind our world naturally becomes pure.

I imagined that my mind was becoming more and more pure, and as a result my normal contaminated world disappeared to be replaced by an emptiness of purity. I recognised that this purity is caused by my actions of body, speech and mind being pure, and felt a determination to behave in virtuous ways which accumulate merit and purify negativities. I stayed in this calm, tranquil emptiness for a while.

I then thought about what this means in the light of our refuge practice. Going for refuge to the Three Jewels with the correct motivation (fear of samsara’s sufferings and faith in the Three Jewels as the source of protection) is an extremely virtuous practice which will accumulate merit and purify negativities. I found myself making the promise to go for refuge constantly throughout the day, because if I do this I will be making my mind pure as quickly as possible. I remained on this promise with the recognition that this is the cause of my becoming an enlightened being. It was lovely!

Dedication

May all living beings come to understand the pervasiveness of cause and effect, and use this knowledge to attain the path of no more learning.

Practice in the Meditation Break

Seeing that going for refuge is the supreme cause for my desired effect, I will go for refuge constantly.

How to Understand the Mind

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

Modern Buddhism

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