This is the fourth post in a short series about the memorisation of the outlines (or condensed meanings) of books studied on Foundation Programme (FP) at Kadampa Buddhist Centres. The others can be found by following the links which are featured on this page.

Everything depends on intention. If we have a strong intention to perform an action, we will certainly do it. In fact, if our intention is sufficiently strong, we will find even the most daunting tasks easy, and we will develop joyous effort without even having to try.

To fire ourselves up with enthusiasm, we should contemplate the benefits of mixing our minds with Dharma in general, and the FP texts, and outlines in particular.

In general, memorisation of Dharma has the following benefits:

  • It improves our memory/mindfulness
  • It improves our concentration
  • It develops our effort and patience
  • It develops our self-confidence
  • It improves our knowledge of Dharma
  • It allows us to recall Dharma at appropriate moments, such as when we are in danger of developing a delusion such as anger
  • It allows us to contemplate Dharma during the day without having to reference actual texts
  • It allows us to recall Dharma during contempation meditation – very useful for making our meditations powerful
  • It improves our ability to understand other Dharma instructions, because we can immediately cross reference
  • It gives us something meaningful with which to occupy our spare time
  • It gives us confidence when we are discussing Dharma with friends
  • It helps to make our lives meaningful

The specific benefits of studying and remembering the contents of the FP texts are given in the books themselves:

Joyful Path of Good Fortune

This book is a commentary to Atisha’s Lamrim Instructions, the stages of the path to enlightenment.

By studying and practising Joyful Path of Good Fortune we gain the ability to our all Buddha’s teachings of both Sutra and Tantra into practice. We can easily make progress on and complete the stages of the path to the supreme happiness of enlightenment. From a practical point of view, Lamrim is the main body of Buddha’s teachings, and the other teachings are like its limbs.

Universal Compassion  by Geshe Kelsang is a commentary on the celebrated root text ‘Training the Mind in Seven Points, and important Mahayana Buddhist  scripture written by the Great Bodhisattva, Geshe Chekhawa (AD 1102 – 1176).

By studying and practising Universal Compassion, we gain the ability to integrate Buddha’s teachings into our dailiy lives, and solve all out human problems.

Eight Steps to Happiness

In the introduction to the book, Geshe Kelsang says:

By studying and practising Eight Steps to Happiness, we gain the ability to generate conventional and ultimate Bodhichitta, and quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings.

Meaningful to Behold.

This book is a commentary to the Venerable Shantideva’s eighth-century masterpiece, Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. Many Buddhist scholars throughout the centuries have written commentaries to Shantideva’s epic poem – one of the most famous and important texts studies in Mahayana Buddhism.  It has been the source of inspiration for countless faithful students.

By studying and practising Meaningful to Behold, we transform our daily activities into the Bodhisattva’s way of life, thereby making every moment of our human life meaningful.

Understanding the Mind.

Understanding the Mind is a detailed explanation of the mind based on the works of the Buddhist scholars Dharmakirti and Dignaga.

By studying and practising  Understanding the Mind we understand the relationship between our mind and its external objects. If we understand that objects depend upon the subjective mind, we can change the way objects appear to us by changing our own mind. Gradually we shall gain the ability to control our mind and in this way solve all our problems.

Heart of Wisdom

This book is a commentary to the Heart Sutra.

By studying and practising Heart of Wisdom we gain a realisation of the ultimate nature of reality. By gaining this realisation we can eliminate the ignorance of self-grasping, which is the root of all our suffering.

We should read these descriptions of these books and understand how special and precious they are. Each one unlocks the door to liberation and enlightenment. Together they are an incredible exposition of Buddhadharma. We should consider how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to read and understand these texts. We should contemplate our good fortune again and again. If we do this, we will find endless enthusiasm for reading and memorising the outlines will come unbidden into our hearts, and fill our lives with meaning and joy.

We should also note the repeated references to putting these instructions into practice. Putting them into practice depends upon us being able to remember them, which brings us back, again, to memorisation. In the next post we will start to look at the memorisation of FP outlines and discuss some of the different methods which can be used.

Stay tuned!