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This is the final post in the series about remembering Dharma Lists. Links to the others can be found on this page.
We have looked at how to memorise lists, and you now know that there is a little up front effort required. But hopefully you can see the many benefits of putting in this effort.
On a practical note, I would suggest that you make a written list of the images you have devised to remember your lists. It’s good to refer back to your own original list. Also, try to make your images vivid, using all your senses. You may have noticed that in my images I have used ‘shiny’ black shoes, ‘delicious smelling’ buns, and soil smells as well as sounds (such as the monk mumbling the Pratimoksha Vows). The more vivid the images you use, the more easily they will embed themselves in our memory.
Lets say you learn a list on day one. You should review it on day 2 – by review I mean you should try to recall the list mentally and then check against your written list, just to make sure you are getting it absolutely right, and you’re not forgetting anything. Following this, you should review it on day 4. Then on day 7. Then on day 14. Then on day 30. After that, you should aim to review the list on a monthly basis. Making appointments in a diary is a good way to keep track of your Dharma List reviews.
There are two methods we can use to improve our ability to remember Dharma. The first is to make an effort to recall what we have heard or read soon after a discourse has finished or after we have finished reading a chapter of a Dharma book. We can do this several times at intervals… The second method is to discuss Dharma with our Dharma friends, asking them questions and explaining what we have understood. This is an excellent way to increase our understanding, remove doubts, and place Dharma firmly within our minds.
With this advice in our hearts, we should strive to use this memory technique to remember Dharma Lists and keep them firmly within our minds.
Thanks for reading these posts, and good luck memorising Dharma Lists!
Love Vide x
The purpose of this meditation is to make a very firm decision to behave in virtuous ways because of our understanding of the law of karma, and then to meditate on this wish in light of equalising self and others.
I began the meditation by dissolving my Guru into my heart and letting his stability and tranquillity mix completely with my mind. I focused on the expansive feeling of emptiness and bliss, and stayed with this for a while until it was time to move on to my main meditation.
I then started by thinking about the law of karma. Every single scientific law has, as a fundamental cornerstone, the law of cause and effect. Even quantum uncertainty does not violate it, because although quantum events are unpredictable, they are not causeless. In this way, it is profoundly unscientific to say that our experiences are causeless or ‘just happen’. All our experiences have causes – this must be a scientific truth. To say otherwise is to abandon the scientific principle that is the bedrock of all rational enquiry.
What causes our experience? If we have good fortune or bad fortune, what is the cause?
Buddha said that our actions create our experiences. Every action we perform leaves a mark on our mind, and in the future this mark will form the basis for an experience. If our action was harmful, we will experience harm. If our action was helpful, we will experience help in future. Although science has yet to identify karma by direct experiment, there is overwhelming empirical evidence for its existence. Lack of direct evidence is no bar to belief: most physicists firmly believe in dark matter, although none has been found.
I was listening to the radio yesterday where a man wrongly convicted of murder was giving an interview. He said he knew when he met another man who was wrongly accused of murder, he knew instantly that he was innocent. The interviewer asking him how he knew. He said that he had been locked up with murderers when he was in prison fighting for his own release. He said that you can see in a person’s eyes that they have murdered. There is a clarity in the eyes of the innocent that is absent in the eyes of a murderer.
I thought about this in meditation. Every action leaves a mark, either overt of subtle. Every action I perform marks me.
What marks do I want to bear? I want to be a Buddha! I want to have a pure mind, a stainlessly pure mind completely mixed with virtue. How can I get that? I need to wash away my marks of non-virtue and perform only virtuous actions to leave marks of purity and goodness.
On the basis of the law of karma, I decided that I need to perform only virtuous actions and purify my negativities. I imagined taking and giving all the time. I imagined making constant offerings. I will offer my good conditions, my food and drink, my practice, my blog – everything.
I was filled with a feeling of giving, of offering and of virtue. This is the path. I focused on this feeling of giving and being on the path of virtue for the rest of the meditation.
After a while I decided to look at what this means in light of equalising self and others. I wondered: what is the karmic result of equalising self and others? The answer is that others will love me as much as they love themselves. Wow! How wonderful that would be! Imagine a world where everyone you meet instantly likes you and is caring towards you. That is the karmic result of equalising self and others. With this in mind I was even more enthusiastic to practice the path of virtue, and I returned to my meditation object, staying with it and mixing my mind with it for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings understand the marks they bear, and through practising the stages of the path may they purify their negative karma and accumulate the positive karma necessary to become pure enlightened beings for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I have identified my actions for today. I will offer all my good conditions constantly to the three jewels, and practice only virtue with a positive mind.