A nice way to settle the mind is to do the following. Stay with each stage for a few minutes before moving on, but if you feel you are ready, move on at that point:

  1. Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths.
  2. Spend some time doing a mental ‘tour’ of your body. Imagine, as you pay attention to a particular part of your body, that any tension or discomfort simply melts away. I usually split up my body into head, neck and shoulders, arms, torso stomach and back, legs. After the tour, imagine your whole body as being relaxed and comfortable for a few minutes.
  3. Then pay attention to how your body feels. Your hands many feel colder than your back, for example. See where your body is in contact with your seat or cushion. Spend a few moments paying attention to these things.
  4. Then bring your attention to your breathing – look for physical signs of your breathing such as your shoulders rising and falling, or the rubbing of your clothing against your body. Stay with this for a while.
  5. Then bring your attention to the sensation of your breath in your body. It may be that there is a sensation of air movement at your nose or upper lip. Watch this sensation for a while.
  6. After this try to simply focus on the ‘point of balance’ between the in breath and the out breath.  Don’t worry about what this means. It will make sense when you are there.
  7. After this simply focus on the stillness of your mind: the sheer pleasure of having a still mind.

You should not feel that you are concentrating ‘harder and harder’ as you progress. You will find, if you go through these steps one at a time, that you will natually and easily enter a very focused and concentrated state without any effort.

Enjoy!

I made the appropriate preparations for meditation and with my mind blissfully mixed with my Guru’s mind, I began. 

I started by remembering the three holy objects of true refuge – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Buddha is like the skilful doctor who diagnosed our illness and prescribes the right medicine. Dharma is the medicine itself which will cure us, and the Sangha are like the dedicated nurses who can help us. 

I focused for this meditation on the Buddha Jewel. Buddha has infinite wisdom. I need to rely on the wisdom of Buddha rather than my own. Listening to my own ‘wisdom’ has not freed me from suffering.


Now is the time to rely on the wisdom of Buddha. I focused on this thought and felt a connection – a path to Buddhahood. I will follow this path and I will kneel and make offerings at the feet of Buddha. 

I focused on this blissful reliance for the rest of the meditation. 

May all living beings rely upon Buddha. 

VK

I made the appropriate preparations for meditation and then breathed away my distractions until my mind was settled.

I have already considered the fact that I will definitely die, but death is not the end of the story. Our mind continues after our death, but in our next life we may have a very different experience from that which we have now.  

I thought of all the good conditions that I have now, and how they may be absent when I reach my next life. I may not have access to Dharma, or may not even have the wish to practice Dharma. There are far worse places to be reborn than in the human realm, which has relatively benign conditions. In fact the worst that could possibly happen in the human realm is nothing compared to the suffering of the lower realms where I could take rebirth.

dread

I thought repeatedly about the sufferings of the lower realm and developed a sense of real dread at the prospect. I also developed a dread for the causes of such a rebirth – non-virtuous actions. I focused on this feeling of dread for the rest of the meditation.

May all living beings develop dread of unfortunate rebirth and also its causes.

VK

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then settled down with some breathing meditation to clear my mind.

After a while I began thinking about what I will dwell on when it comes time to die. What will I look back on and identify as truly valuable? Will I think of the cars that I have owned, or the plants I got for the back garden. Will I think of my family and friends as valuable? All the time and effort I have spent on these things will be of no use to me at the time of death. Although worldly effort spent caring for my family is important, at my death time it cannot help me. For I will die and all these things will dissolve into emptiness as I watch, never to return.

If I fill my life with worldly pursuits and relationships, I will have wasted my precious opportunity  to lead a truly meaningful life.

gkg-gck

So what is my choice – how should I live my life? Abandon cars and flowers? Abandon my family? Of course not. I must transform them – transform them all into the spiritual path to enlightenment. If I view all persons as heroes and heroines, and if I remember that all the things I normally see completely lack inherent existence, then I can interact with everything and everyone in my world as normal, but in a way pervaded by virtue.

I focused on my wish to live my life gathering virtue moment by moment, and I let the joyful feeling soak my mind. I stayed with this feeling for a while before rising from meditation and dedicating.

Through the virtue I have generated through my virtuous effort, may all living beings be freed from the laziness of attachment to meaningless things, and live the good life of virtue.

VK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation.

I then settled down, cleared my mind and began my contemplation of my precious human life. I thought about how I have all the best possible conditions for a meaningful life. I have time, motivation, perfect teachings and the support of a local Sangha. Through the wonders of Facebook I can also talk to wonderful Kadampas throughout the world!)

I need to use these special conditions to get the most out of life – to live life to the full. I want to experience happiness now and in the future. I want every moment of my life to be filled with happiness – a real banquet of delight!

How can I achieve this? By practising Dharma. By practising Dharma I can transform every experience and every moment into a cause of happiness. Whoever I meet and wherever I am, I can be happy by putting Dharma into practice.

Laughing girl

I focused on the wish to put Dharma into practice every moment, and I was filled with a sense of enthusiasm and joy. How wonderful. I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

May all living beings experience continual happiness and joy though the practice of Dharma.

VK

 

In my meditation today I focused on the Mahayana practice of cherishing others.

giving

In the Lamrim meditation of contemplating the advantages of cherishing others, I began by remembering that cherishing others is the root of all happiness. How can this be true?

Normally we hold the self centred view that it is our happiness and freedom from suffering which is the most important. In the Mahayana practice of cherishing others, we seek to reduce our self-cherishing and finally abandon it altogether. In the end, we cherish others, and it is their happiness and freedom from suffering that we are most concerned with.

In meditation, I imagined each of my family members in turn, and recognised that their happiness and freedom from suffering was important. I felt a connection between our hearts, and I sensed their capacity for joy. If I have this connection I can share in their happiness when I do something for them. Often when we do something for someone else, it is not so much an act of kindness but more the beginning of a kind of business transaction – ‘I’ll do this for you and I expect an equivalent act of ‘kindness’ in return’! The truth of our sham kindness can be seen when we become angry with the other person when they don’t keep their part of the deal!

In meditation, I thought about what it would be like to feel the other person’s happiness brought about through our actions. What would be the result? The result would be when we do something for others, we would experience their joy as our own. There would be no need for some bargain to be made. If we cherish others and share in their happiness, WE are in charge. If we want to experience some happiness, we don’t have to wait for someone to be nice to us – we just need to find someone and be nice to them!

I thought about this and imagined sharing the joy of others, and focused on the point that if we cherish others, we can experience joy continuously. I tried to stay concentrated on this recognition and feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Who can I turn to? Who knows the problem I have? Not the police. Not doctors. They don’t understand the nature of samsara, and that it is like I am trapped in a ring of fire. 

I turn to Buddha because he understands my problem and can help me overcome it. I turn to holy Dharma because the realisations of holy Dharma are path to liberation and enlightenment itself. I turn to my Sangha friends to help me. 

I hold Buddha at my heart and turn to my Guru at my heart for my refuge. May all living beings find refuge. 

I will definitely die. What then? 

Everything I perceive, including death, is a appearance. What will appear after death?

Everything that appears to us is a manifestation of our karma. In this current life the broad parameters of my experience are limited by the human form I have taken and the environment. 

But when I am reborn all bets are off – my body could be in any form. My environment could be anything. I could be an animal in an unhealthy place. I could be a hungry ghost in a barren place. I could be a hell being in a firery place. 

I say ‘I could’ but really this is a distortion I am subconsciously introducing to make things better. In fact if I succumb to future rebirths I will definitely be reborn as a hell being in hell. Maybe not the fist rebirth, but it will happen. 

I will remember that I am in great danger of being reborn in hell as a hell being. 

When I die, this illusion-like world will disappear, the self I normally see will disappear, and all my concerns and worries will disappear. Since this could happen today, I shall strive to remember that everything I normally perceive is illusion-like, and keep a calm peaceful mind. 

When reading and studying Dharma we should always be thinking ‘how can I use this wisdom in MY life, to develop and maintain peace in MY mind.’ 

When studying Dharma we should not say ‘sound is impermanent because it depends upon causes’. We should think ‘this means *I* am impermanent because *I* depend upon causes’. 
If we read Dharma without finding its direct application to ourselves it becomes a mere academic process. If we apply it to ourself we can transform ourselves into a limitless being with the power to help each and every living being every day.

Modern Buddhism

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