The purpose of this meditation is to develop the sincere wish to abandon samsara and all its sufferings, and then to meditate on this wish in the light of the fact that all living beings are my mother.

I began by doing breathing meditation to settle my mind. I counted my breaths from one to eighteen, trying to keep my attention on my breathing. I cycled through several times, and slowly I felt my mind becoming steadily more and more settled and tranquil. After a while I found I could leave off the counting of breaths, and simply abide in the peace and calm of my settled mind.

After a while of enjoying this state, I moved on to the main Lamrim object of meditation, which was to generate a sincere wish to abandon samsara’s sufferings forever.

For this meditation, I focused on the sufferings of ageing. I am 45 years old. When I was a younger adult, say from the ages of 16 to 38, I did not have any long term ill health issues. I was physically healthy and I engaged in whatever activities I chose. I played football, climbed mountains, jogged, studied martial arts and did anything else that came along.

From about the age of 38 I noticed a subtle change in my body and my abilities. My knees and wrists hurt. I am not supple and can feel a perceived frailty descending over me. When I was younger I would not be concerned with knocks and bumps because I would always simply recover. But now these knocks and bumps take longer to overcome, and some are not improving at all. I feel like I will have wrist and knee pain for the rest of my life.

As I look forward, I can see that my experience in this respect will be to engage in fewer adventurous activities and to be more cautious with my body. I will become more and more concerned to protect it in case it is injured. I will become more scared of injury, and more reluctant to take risks. In short, I will become more and more concerned with myself while at the same time resenting this self for stopping me doing what I would like to do.

As I get steadily older, I can see no hope of improvement, and just a continuing descent into unhappiness due to ageing.

I thought about these points from my own personal experience, and a deep wish to be free of this suffering arose in my heart. I did not wish to avoid ageing, because this is impossible, but I really wished that I could avoid the suffering that ageing could bring. I thought again and again about these points and focused on this wish to be free from the suffering of ageing, and the suffering of samsara in general.

I felt a very deep clarity and purpose – I must free myself from suffering by becoming liberated from samsara! I focused on this wish for a long while. It filled me.

When the time came, I withdrew my attention out of this wish, and thought about what this wish means in the light of the fact that all living beings are our mothers.

To attain liberation from samsara is like escaping a prison of torment. But all other sentient beings – my kind mothers – are still trapped. To attain liberation while failing to remember our kind mother beings is like leaving the prison with the keys in our hand, and failing to unlock the doors to their cells as I walk past. How callous it would be to leave them trapped in suffering!

To attain liberation for ourself is wonderful, but its true meaning is in our subsequent ability to free all living beings.

I focused on the wish to be free from samsara’s sufferings while at the same time rejoicing in the fact that it will allow me to develop into a state where I can free all living beings. Once again I felt a very deep wish to be free and to free all my kind mothers. It was very focused and peaceful, yet full of purpose.

I thought of the triple realisation I get in the Migtsema prayer. Je Tsongkhapa is the manifestation of all the compassion, wisdom and spiritual power of all the Buddhas. His compassion lets him see the suffering of others and wish to alleviate it. His wisdom means he knows exactly what to do to release others from their suffering. His spiritual power gives him the power to release others from their suffering. These three qualities mean that his is perfect for the task of freeing all living beings from suffering. I have Je Tsongkhapa at my heart, and my mind is mixed with his mind. His qualities are my qualities (in my imagination, that is) and I can do what he can do.

I brought this understanding into my main meditation object, and it gathered more power and intensity. I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the precious time I had available for my meditation.

Dedication

May the virtues I have generated through meditating on the stages of the path, and the merit I have generated today be the direct cause for all living beings to be freed from suffering.  In particular, may my Aunt Amy in New Zealand be freed from all her samsaric sufferings, and quickly take rebirth in a pure land, free from all her pain, loneliness and suffering.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will focus on freeing everyone I meet from their distress, unhappiness and dissatisfaction, and remember that through them, I will be able to eventually free all living beings from suffering, forever.