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January is the month for retreats. If you are living near (or in) a centre you should definitely take part in the retreats which will be organised.

But for those of you who don’t live close to a centre, are unable to participate, not quite there in terms of your practice, or are not so inclined, there is the Daily Lamrim Meditation Challenge!

More details coming soon!

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a strong wish to abandon attachment to the distractions of this world and a strong wish to practice Dharma purely. Furthermore, I will meditate on what this means in the light of the dangers of lower rebirth.

I began the meditation by thinking about something I read on Facebook recently. A friend who was trying to gain some control over their mind was talking to a someone who had just been informed that they have cancer, and only three weeks of life left. They said ‘Try being told you only have three weeks to live – that will clear your mind’.

I imagined being in a doctor’s office, being told I have three weeks to live. I imagined how it would feel to walk through reception and out into the car park. It would feel like a dream – unreal – the same but different. It would seem like all the superficiality had been stripped away, and almost everything that I was concerned about would instantly become irrelevant.

What WOULD be important? It would be my relationships with the people I love and care about. It would be spending time with them and helping them. It would be putting my affairs in order for their benefit. These things would be important now.

Then I thought about how I am just like all the thousands of people who receive this news every week. There is no difference between myself and them. I could feel ill tomorrow, have some tests next week, and find myself in that doctor’s room in three week’s time.

I felt a real awareness of death.

Even in meditation, part of my mind was saying ‘yes but it might not happen – I will probably live till I’m 90!’. How ignorant! And even if that does happen, in the end I will still be three weeks from death. I will still be in the same position eventually.

I thought about how I can truly benefit others with my life. I need to abandon the laziness of attachment to worldly pleasures, and concentrate on Dharma practice. I need to abandon harmful activities. I need to engage in virtuous activities. And the activities I have to engage in (such as work) I must transform into the spiritual path.

I focused on these three wishes for a while and felt a deep wish to use every moment of my life in a meaningful way.

I then thought about the sufferings of lower rebirth. Death is not oblivion. Death is not the end of all things. It is a change point, marking the boundary between different periods of experience. The next period may be filled with extreme pain, suffering and despair. I immediately felt a sense of dread, and then fed this through to my wish to make my life meaningful. It made my wish very strong – I must practice Dharma NOW!


May all living beings feel like they have three weeks to live, and make use of their lives to become Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will put my three wishes into practice – my wish to abandon non-virtue, my wish to practise only virtue, and to transform all my experiences into the spiritual path.


This is an appropriate meditation for the 21st of December – the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The day with the most darkness is the point after which the daylight increases steadily. In the same way, the meditation on death is the one that makes the deepest impression and frees us from the darkness of ignorance.

Modern Buddhism

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