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We are so used to studying academic subjects these days simply to pass exams, we can easily find ourselves treating Dharma in the same way.
It is a mistake to treat Buddha’s teachings as a theoretical or abstract exercise. Dharma is a fascinating subject, and there is much intellectual satisfaction to be gained by its study. But we should remember that this is simply missing the point.
At the very end of the Condensed Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, Buddha says:
I have explained the paths to enlightenment so that all living beings might attain them.
Dharma instructions should be seen as practical advice to be put into practice, not as ornaments to be put on a mental mantlepiece to be inspected and wondered at from time to time.
By having a daily Lamrim meditation practice we will quickly see how we can put all Dharma teachings into practice in our daily lives. We will also understand that we should take each instruction as personal advice and gain experience for ourself.
More benefits of a daily Lamrim meditation practice to come – stay tuned!
I began my meditation with a review of several previous meditations. I remembered that in all my past lives I had been birthed by a mother who cared for me as if I was the most precious jewel in the universe. She was so very kind to me without any hesitation, and she always held me dear in her heart, for the whole of her life. I remembered that all living beings had been my mothers, and that they had all shown me the same kindness. I remembered my affectionate love for all these mother beings: how special and important they are.
Then I considered how they suffer. They take rebirths in samsara continually. Every lifetime brings the sufferings of birth, sickness, ageing and death; the sufferings of having to encounter what they do not like, having to experience separation from what they like, and being unable to fulfil their wishes. These living beings wish to be happy, but because they are born in samsara, this is impossible: in their blind search for happiness, they unknowingly create actions which are the cause for further suffering.
I visualised my Mum and Dad in front of me, with my family around them, and all other living beings around them. I recognised each of them as being my kind mother, and at the same time recognised that they are all trapped in the prison of samsara, suffering continually.
After a while I began to see all of these beings in the aspect of (or in the shape of) a little girl, like my little girl: Little One. She was standing in rags, shoulders down, hands by her sides, crying. Eyes mostly closed, tears rolling down her cheeks, mouth open, sobbing. She was experiencing pain, fear and suffering. She does not understand her suffering, what causes it, or how to stop it. So she does the only thing she can – stands there powerlessly and cries in her pain and despair. I kept the recognition that she represented all living beings and that I love them, and that they are all suffering.
I dwelt on this image for a while, letting the meaning permeate my mind.
Then I developed the wish for her to be free from her suffering: for all living beings to be free from their suffering. It felt like a broad, powerful, overarching, stable force, reaching over all of samsara. I stayed with this feeling of great compassion for the rest of the meditation.