The purpose of this meditation is to develop a strong feeling of dreadful fear of taking rebirth in the lower realms, and then to see what this means in light of the practice of exchanging self and others.

I began by doing breathing meditation, gently calming my mind until my distracting thoughts subsided, and I was left with a floating, space-like feeling.

After a while, I moved on to the meditation on the sufferings of the lower realms. When this life ends, I will have to experience the results of my karma. Over this life and my many past lives, I have committed many negative actions, and the consequences of those actions must surely be mine to experience. I thought of the terrible things that appear to the minds of beings in the lower realms, and of their suffering. Then I imagined that I had joined these pitiful creatures, and I too was in the grip of unspeakable pain and torment.

I felt a deep dread of this situation, and focused on this dread for a while.

I then thought about what this means in terms of the practice of exchanging self and others. When I exchange self with others, I am exchanging the object of my cherishing – changing it from myself to others. If I can do this, I will have no self-cherishing, and I will be protected from suffering. Self-cherishing is the method by which I am hurt by the appearances to my mind, and without self-cherishing these appearances cannot cause me any suffering. Therefore, without self-cherishing I could journey to the lower realms and be protected from the sufferings there. Knowing that it is possible to protect myself from this suffering, I returned to the idea of being one of the unprotected living beings in the lower realms, and kept my mind focused on it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings develop a deep fear of rebirth in the lower realms, and by keeping this fear alive in their minds, may they quickly travel along the spiritual path to ultimate freedom.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to always remember that I will die soon, and then I die, I will probably enter the lower realms unless I follow my spiritual path.