You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘03 The Dangers of Lower Rebirth’ category.
Welcome to the third week of our Meditation Project, where examine the object from different angles to improve our understanding. Towards the end of the week we bring all our thoughts together in two qualified meditations. The anticipated format is one meditation per day Monday to Friday, and then the same meditation on Saturday and Sunday, bringing all our understanding together. [These meditations are taken from the Book – How to Transform Your Life, available from Tharpa.com]
Our meditation topic for Week 3 is Rebirth.
Week 3 Object: A heartfelt wish to prepare for our countless future lives, and to apply effort to attaining permanent liberation from suffering putting spiritual teachings into practice.
Day 1 Contemplation
We should know that our sleeping is like death, our dreaming is like the intermediate state between death and rebirth, and out waking state is like rebirth. The cycle of these three shows the existence of future rebirth, through which we can understand the existence of our countless future lives.
Day 2 Contemplation
Our body and mind are separate entities, and so even through the body disintegrates at death the continuum of the mind remains unbroken. Instead of ceasing, the mind simply leaves the present body and goes to the next life. For ordinary beings, therefore, rather than releasing us from suffering, death only brings new sufferings.
Day 3 Contemplation
When we die our inner winds dissolve inwards and our mind becomes progressively more and more subtle until the very subtle mind of clear light of death becomes manifest. After the clear light of death has ceased, we experience the intermediate state which is a dream like state. After this we experience rebirth. Just as when we wake from sleep, the dream world disappears and we perceive the world of the waking state, so, when we take rebirth, the appearances of the intermediate state cease and we perceive the world of the next life.
Day 4 Contemplation
Once we have generated an appropriate fear of dying unprepared, we should search for something that will offer real protection. The paths of future lives are very long and unfamiliar. We have to experience one life after another and we cannot be sure where we will take rebirth.
Day 5 Contemplation
Therefore we need to find something that will show us a safe way to future lives, something that will direct us along correct paths and away from wrong paths. Since only spiritual teachings reveal a flawless path that will help and protect us in the future, we must make effort with our body, speech and mind to put spiritual teachings such as those presented in this book into practice.
After becoming familiar with our meditation object through the previous five meditations, we can now try to bring all our understanding together in one object of placement meditation, arrived at through the following contemplation:
Since future lives will certainly come, I must prepare for them now while I have the opportunity. I will apply effort in putting spiritual teachings into practice in my life now, while I have the chance.
I made the appropriate preparations for meditation and then breathed away my distractions until my mind was settled.
I have already considered the fact that I will definitely die, but death is not the end of the story. Our mind continues after our death, but in our next life we may have a very different experience from that which we have now.
I thought of all the good conditions that I have now, and how they may be absent when I reach my next life. I may not have access to Dharma, or may not even have the wish to practice Dharma. There are far worse places to be reborn than in the human realm, which has relatively benign conditions. In fact the worst that could possibly happen in the human realm is nothing compared to the suffering of the lower realms where I could take rebirth.
I thought repeatedly about the sufferings of the lower realm and developed a sense of real dread at the prospect. I also developed a dread for the causes of such a rebirth – non-virtuous actions. I focused on this feeling of dread for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop dread of unfortunate rebirth and also its causes.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate a fear of taking a less fortunate rebirth in our next life.
Through contemplation of the nature of the mind it becomes an inescapable truth that our mind will continue after the death of our body. When this happens, what will we experience? We will experience a new life with a new body in a new environment. All the variables will be reset, and the fortunate conditions we experience now will probably be absent.
At the moment we have ideal conditions for entering, making progress along and completing the spiritual path to enlightenment. But there is a real danger that these conditions will be lost at our death time.
I contemplated my good fortune and also the danger of losing my good conditions. I developed a fear of losing these good conditions, and focused on this fear with the intention of always keeping it present in my awareness. The purpose of this is to help me utilise my human life to its greatest benefit.
May all living beings understand and recognise their precious opportunity and value it appropriately. I dedicate my virtues for the benefit of Monty Oum – May he take a fortunate rebirth in the pure land of Keajra.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will remember the dangers of taking a spiritual wrong turn in my next rebirth.
My father is 82 and another one of his friends died yesterday. That makes 3 in the last week. Death is all round us, and we need to prepare for our next lives now while we have the chance. Who knows if we will have a similar opportunity next time around?
The purpose of this meditation is to generate a strong fear of taking rebirth in the lower realms.
I began with the appropriate preparations for meditation and then started by thinking about how the karma that has not ripened on me in this life will surely ripen on me in future lives. Since most of my actions are ignorant and harmful, it is likely that I will take rebirth in the lower realms unless I purify my negativities beforehand.
Today I might find it unbearable if I was called a ‘stupid cow’, but what will I do if tomorrow I am born as a cow, or a fish?
I contemplated this point, and my future lives (which normally seem so far away) seemed to feel very close indeed. Even tomorrow I might take rebirth as a helpless cow or fish! I began to feel very uncomfortable at the notion, and as I repeated the contemplation the feeling grew into fear. Once the fear was strong I focused on it.
May all living beings find meaningful fear of rebirth in lower realms, and take actions now to purify their negative karma.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to keep my fear keen.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate a concern for what’s to come in our next life.
I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then started by remembering my meditation from yesterday, where I resigned myself to the fact that I will definitely die.
As a Buddhist, I believe that my mind is not created by my brain or my mind. I believe that the mind is the creator of all its experiences, including the death of the body. The mind will continue after this body has come to an end, rather like a bird that flies from one nest to another. What will I find when my next life begins? The danger is that there will be no Dharma where I am born. If this is the case, my path ends at my death.
I imagined a path leading up to a curtain, and understood it to represent my spiritual path continuing through my life, but ending at my death. I developed a deep concern for what will happen to my mind once I pass through the curtain.
This concern is the object of this meditation, and it will be used later in other meditations to help generate strong motivations. Therefore, without looking for a solution, I simply rested my mind on this concern for my future wellbeing, and stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings generate concern for their future lives, and use this to take action now.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to remember my concern for my future lives.