The purpose of this meditation is to develop a very real fear of rebirth in the lower realms, and then to meditate on this fear in the light of equanimity – a warm and friendly feeling towards all living beings.

I began the meditation by relaxing my body, one part at a time until my whole body felt relaxed and light as a cloud. I then focused on my breathing, and gradually focused my attention on more and more subtle aspects of the breath until my mind was very still, and I was experiencing a very beautiful and lucid feeling.

After a while I moved my mind to think about where I am in my spiritual journey, and what could happen if I lost my way. An image came to mind of me climbing a very smooth incline, where enlightenment was at the top and the sufferings of the lower realms were behind me far away at the bottom. I am almost at the top, although there is still a fair way to go. It was a sort of version of ‘Total Wipeout’, or ‘It’s A Knockout’ (depending on your generation).

I imagined the slope to be very smooth, and as I walked up it, I had the feeling that my feet were only just getting enough grip to avoid slipping. It was really close. At any time, I would lose my grip and my feet would go out from underneath me, and I would start to slide down, down, down.

I started to think about what this incline represents. The smoothness of the surface is affected by my actions. If I perform negative actions, the surface becomes smoother and I will surely slip. If I perform virtuous actions, the surface becomes more grippy. And if I can receive the blessings of the holy beings, the incline becomes less steep.

I thought about how I could lose all the ground I have gained if I develop a strong wrong view, and I could slid all the way down to the lower realms.

I strongly visualised my self, standing on the incline with my arms out for balance, testing each foothold before putting my weight on it, always conscious of the dreadful fate behind me, but looking ahead to the top of the slope and enlightenment as my goal. I thought about the lower realms behind me, and I developed a real fear of slipping and sliding back down into them. The fear gripped my heart, and I kept is there by constantly thinking about the moment I lose my footing, and slide down. It was very real.

After a while of this, I decided to think about what this means in the light of equanimity – the understanding that my normal attitudes to others are mistaken, and that the best way to relate to others is to develop a warm and friendly feeling towards them. I thought about it for a while and it seemed to me that equanimity supports my climb very well. If I constantly feel warm and friendly towards others, I will create virtue, shun non-virtue, and open myself to the blessings of the holy beings. With this understanding of how valuable equanimity is to me avoiding rebirth in the lower realms, I returned my attention to the fear of slipping, and kept it real for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings keep a realistic and positive fear of lower rebirth in their hearts, and use it to practice virtue, shun non-virtue and to receive the blessings of the holy beings, so that they may attain pure enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remember my fear of lower rebirth throughout the day and the night.