You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘05 Actions and their Effects’ category.

Welcome to the fifth 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 5 is Samsara.

Week 4 Object: A heartfelt wish to put effort now now into liberating ourself permanently from the sufferings of my countless future lives.

Day 1 Contemplation

We should know that out human life is only precious and of real value when we use it to train in spiritual paths. In itself it is a true suffering. We can use our understanding of sufferings in this life to understand how much suffering we will have to endure in all our future lives, unless we free ourselves now from the cycle of suffering known as samsara.

Day 2 Contemplation

Unless we free ourself from samsara now, we will have to experience the suffering of lingering illness and death for countless aeons.

Day 3 Contemplation

In samsara we have to experience many things and situations which we would rather avoid. We are constantly brought face to face with experiences we find unpleasant. This is the nature of samsara and we will face these situations again and again throughout all our future lives.

Day 4 Contemplation

In samsara we have to experience separation from those people and things to which we  wish to be close.  We work hard to maintain a pleasant house and to support our family, but in order to do so we have to spend many hours a day separated from them.  We should understand that this is the nature of samsara and we will face these situations again and again throughout all our future lives.

Day 5 Contemplation

In samsara we often experience the frustration of our wishes.  We work hard and endure many hardships to make our plans come to fruition, but often our plans don’t work out.  Our deepest wishes are left unsatisfied – in the end, in samsara all our dreams are broken.  We should understand that this is the nature of samara and we will face these situations again and again throughout all our future lives.

Weekend Meditations

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:

There is no benefit in denying the sufferings of future lives; when they actually descend upon me it will be too late to protect myself from them. Therefore I definitely need to prepare protection now, while I have this human life that gives me the opportunity to liberate myself permanently from the sufferings of my countless future lives.  If I do not apply effort to accomplish this, but allow my human life to become empty of meaning, there is no greater deception and no greater foolishness.I must put effort now into liberating myself permanently from the suffering of countless future lives.

Welcome to the fourth 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 4 is Karma.

Week 4 Object: A heartfelt wish to develop a strong determination to avoid even the slightest non virtue and to nurture even the smallest positive thoughts and constructive deeds.

Day 1 Contemplation

Karma means actions – the actions of our body, speech and mind. The subject is very meaningful.  Throughout our life we have to experience various types of sufferings and problems without choice.  This is because we do not understand which actions we need to abandon and which actions we need to practice.  If we had this knowledge and put it into practice there would be no basis for suffering and problems.

Day 2 Contemplation

The law of karma is a special instance of the law of cause and effect, according to which all our actions of body, speech and mind are causes and all our experiences are their effects.

Day 3 Contemplation

If we do not perform and action, we cannot experience its effect. If we do perform and action, we will definitely experience its effect.

Day 4 Contemplation

The actions of living beings are never wasted, even though a long time may pass until their effects are experienced. Actions cannot simply vanish, and we cannot give them away to someone else and thus avoid out responsibility.

Day 5 Contemplation

Our mind is like a treasure chest and our virtuous actions are like jewels.  If we do not safeguard them through dedication, whenever we become angry it is as if we had put a thief amongst our treasures.

Weekend Meditations

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:

By contemplating how the results of our actions are definite, we will develop a strong determination to avoid even the slightest non virtue and to nurture even the smallest positive thoughts and constructive deeds.

Arriving back home after a short time away, we arrived back home to find this on the doormat: 

  
In our world, we are bombarded with messages to engage in non-virtue. We are encouraged to engage in actions which put ourselves before others, and oppose our own long term interests. 

May these messages serve as reminders to keep our vows – and self respect – intact. 

What are the practices of ordinary people? We are all motivated by the wish to be happy and free from suffering. Therefore the ‘practices’ of ordinary (or worldly) people are to try to be happy and avoid suffering. They try to increase the odds that this will be the case through their daily actions.  

The odds are uncertain, however because the cause of happiness is not the objects we come into contact with, but rather our karma. 

Spiritual practitioners understand that their virtuous actions are the causes of their future happiness, and the odds are 100%!

  

Understanding that virtuous actions guarantee experiences of happiness in future, this sign in the bookmakers window reminds me that I should practice virtue at all times (as well as avoiding non-virtue and keeping a beneficial intention). 

Last night over 100 people were killed in a terrorist attack. 

There are a number of ways of understanding this event and deciding what we should do. 

The conventional understanding of this event is that terrorists in the external world killed other people in the external world. It seems that ‘we’ are ‘in here’ and those events are ‘out there’. If we accept this view then it is obvious that the causes of this event are also ‘out there’ and we should seek to tackle those causes with external actions. In many places on the internet now I see people calling for ISIS to be bombed. 

These attacks in Paris are dreadful and I deplore them. 

Even if we look at the world as an external object we can see that responding to violence with more violence will not resolve the situation. If dropping bombs in the Middle East actually made us (in Europe and the USA) safer, then we would be safer now than at the start of the first Gulf War. Each bomb dropped, each bullet fired and each drone strike made should have made us safer. But here we are now with the ‘terrorist threat’ higher than ever and getting worse. Violence cannot be used to prevent more violence. Somehow the cycle has to stop. 

So even with a conventional analysis of the situation, it is obvious that the solution to this ‘external’ problem is not more bombs, guns and killing. 

What about the analysis from a Buddhist perspective?

Last weekend I wrote about how all the ‘external’ objects we perceive are actually parts of our own mind. Our mind is like the water in a fish tank, and we are like a fish swimming around. The water we swim into is like the ‘external’ things and situations we encounter in our normal life. When we swim into clean water we experience happiness, and when we swim into dirty water we experience suffering. 

When events occur like what has happened in Paris, what does this mean? It is like we are swimming into some particularly dirty water in our tank. It means that the events in Paris are actually appearances which are part of our own mind, and have been in our mind all along. These events are karmic potentialities which have been ‘waiting’ for the conditions to arise in order to manifest for us (or patches of dirty water, waiting for us to swim into them).

This is a radically different way of viewing these events. Instead of these events being ‘out there’ and beyond our control, they are actually part of our mind. They are actually within our control. 

How can we control these events?

Once the karma for an event to occur has begun to ripen, it cannot be stopped. But we can purify these karmic seeds before they arise. In my fish tank analogy, this would be like some particularly dirty water being purified before we had to encounter it. 

There are special practices in which we can engage to purify our negative karma before it arises. 

Therefore the conventional view of these events leads us to the conclusion that we are relatively powerless to do anything about terrorism and ISIS. 

The Buddhist view puts us firmly at the controls and says ‘if you don’t want this kind of event in the future, put effort into purifying your own mind’. 

May we all purify our minds, and abide in a world free from suffering. 

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong determination to rejoice in virtuous actions and our ability to control our mind.

I began with the appropriate preparations for meditation and then started by recalling Geshe-la’s words in How to Understand the Mind:

We should judge whether or not we believe that the main cause of our suffering is our non-virtuous actions and the main cause of our happiness is our virtuous actions.

I asked myself – do I really believe that my actions cause my experiences? I thought about this and decided that I know in my heart that the causes of my experiences are very difficult to see from a worldly point of view. I work hard for some objectives and yet they are never realised. And other things arise with no effort on my part at all. Furthermore the experiences which should cause the most pleasure to me often lack any satisfaction. The experiences themselves are more than just the material components.

I know that there is a connection between my actions and their effects in general terms. If I prepare a meal I know that edible food will appear on the table. I know if I compliment my wife she will smile. But I can also see that there must be more going on in this process. Sometimes food is delicious – sometimes not. Sometimes my wife smiles with happiness, sometimes with sadness (like when she believes me to be simply being kind, rather than genuine).

The cause of my full experience cannot be explained by material operations alone. Buddha says that karma is responsible.

If I believe this, then I need to only create positive virtuous actions. Imagine we understood all our negative actions caused suffering for ourselves, in the same way as hitting our finger with a hammer causes immediate pain. Often the separation between our action and the experience means that we fail to recognise the connection at all, and are left puzzled by the actual cause of our suffering. But if we understood – really understood moment by moment – that our actions create our experiences, we would have no difficulty at all in choosing to act virtuously.

Rule Book Or Policy Guide ManualI thought about how normally I am so concerned with being right and winning arguments that I forget if I am being virtuous or not. I forget if I am cherishing others or simply cherishing myself. The pleasure I get from ‘being right’ is hollow and bitter, but the pleasure I get from rising above such nonsense and acting in virtuous ways is sweet and fulfilling. It creates happiness immediately and in the future. I felt like I need to remember that I want to abandon samsara and its samsaric rules of self cherishing. I want to obey the rules of virtue and karma, and find dependable happiness in acts of virtue and the knowledge that I can control my mind and my choices.

I thought about this and developed the thought:

I play a different game, with different rules. I will rejoice in the happiness of virtue and the control of my mind.

That was such a wonderful feeling that I focused on it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings find happiness in rejoicing in virtue and in the control of choice of mind.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try very hard today to play by different rules, and find my happiness from a different source from samsara.

Modern Buddhism

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,035 other followers

Categories

Follow me on Facebook

May 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Top Rated