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The purpose of this meditation is to generate the wish to act in a virtuous manner because we recognise that it is our natural way.
I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then I called to mind the instructions on meditating on karma from Eight Steps to Happiness by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
A particular phrase seemed to stand out for me this morning as I read through the section of the book. Geshe-la says that the relationship between our actions and their effects is ‘definite’. In my contemplation, I focused on this idea of the definite relationship between our actions and our experiences. If we perform virtuous actions, we will definitely experience positive results. If we perform negative actions, we will definitely experience suffering.
As I thought about this, I wondered why, given that no-one wants even the slightest suffering, that we don’t always act in virtuous ways. The answer, it seemed to me, was that the definite link between actions and their effects is not always clear to us, and our minds are clouded by delusions which distort our attitudes, and make us think that non-virtuous actions are beneficial in some way.
When we pick up a kettle that has just boiled, we pick it up by the handle. Why? Because it is obvious that we would burn ourselves if we picked it up without using the handle. It seems very natural to pick up the kettle by the handle – we do it almost without any thinking at all. We understand the suffering we would experience if we did not use the handle at such a fundamental level that it is very natural to use the handle and avoid suffering.
I thought that if we had such an understanding of the definite relationship between our negative actions and suffering, that we would act in a virtuous way simply and naturally, because it was obviously the way to avoid suffering. It would not even occur to us to act in non-virtuous ways.
I focused on this idea of acting naturally and virtuously, and a feeling arose of all my actions naturally becoming virtuous, because I naturally and effortlessly wanted to avoid suffering!
I was filled with a feeling of lightness and purity – all my actions of body, speech and mind were pure and the cause of happiness. I focused on this for the rest of my short time in meditation.
May all beings see the definite relationship between actions and their effects, and naturally act in virtuous ways in order to avoid suffering and attain enlightenment quickly for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to remember that to act virtuously is to act in the most natural way possible.
The purpose of this meditation is to encourage us to purify our negative karma and to accumulate positive potentialities in our mind.
I began the meditation by thinking about what Geshe-la says in The New Meditation Handbook for this meditation. He says that we suffer because we performed many non-virtuous actions in our previous lives. All the sufferings I now have were created my ‘me’ in my past lives. I am not responsible for these actions now, but if I want to be free of suffering in the future I have to take responsibility for my actions now.
I thought about how I should think ‘where will this action lead’? whenever I do anything. Will this action lead to suffering, or will this action lead to happiness? It is as simple as that.
I made the firm determination to keep checking where my actions will lead. The best actions are those to accumulate merit and those which purify negative karma. I promised myself that I will always try to check my actions and ensure they are positive. I imagined my future lives filled with happiness and free from suffering, because of my action now. I tried to keep in my mind the idea of checking where my actions will lead, and the feeling of happiness in the future. I stayed with this for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings create only positive actions, and purify their negativities, and become enlightened for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will keep checking by actions and try to overcome short term self-grasping stupidity for actions based on wisdom.
I began the meditation by focusing on a line from The New Meditation Handbook. ‘Suffering is created by our own actions or karma’. I wanted to see what would happen if I just looked at that idea in my meditation.
I mentally repeated the words and let their meaning manifest in my mind. After a while, a conclusion presented itself: If actions create sufferings, WHICH actions? The answer is negative actions – all the actions included in the ten non-virtuous actions. I went back to thinking about suffering being created by these negative actions. The connection was very clear. I got the impression of touching a very hot iron. If we touch a very hot iron, it instantly causes great pain, and we instantly pull our hand away. We don’t think about it. We instinctively protect ourself and stop further pain.
It seemed to me that I wanted to instantly stop engaging in negative actions, as if they themselves caused intense pain. I recognised that, in fact, they do cause such pain, but in the future rather than instantly. But in my meditation, I brought that pain right up into the time of the action itself.
I focused on this feeling of pulling away from negative actions as if they were a hot iron, searing me. I tried to let my mind become absorbed in the feeling of pulling away and disengaging from negative actions – the source of future suffering.
Through the virtues I have collected my meditating on karma, may I attain the realisation of karma, and may all living beings attain enlightenment.
practice in the meditation break
I will look for my negative actions of body, speech and mind, and remember the feeling that they are searing my mental continuum – I will try to remember clearly the pain they will cause me, and use this to stop the action immediately. I will also guard against negative actions in the same way.
I began by considering the causes of our conditions in this life. Some people are beautiful and others ugly. Some are cheerful by natures and some are pessimistic. Why is this? It is because of the karma of living beings. Living beings perform actions which lead to effects – positive actions create positive effects, negative actions create negative effects. I mulled over these points for a while and began to wonder what my karma looked like.
At the moment I have good conditions so it is tempting to think I have only good karma. But as I contemplated, an image came to mind. A bell curve. The bell curve represented the range of my actions, with a small number of very negative actions on the left hand tail of the curve, and a very small number of very positive actions, with most being somewhere in the middle.
But then I imagined the reality of my situation. The bell curve was on a see saw, with the vast majority of the bell curve to the left of centre, coloured black, tipping the see saw firmly to the left. This black area was all my accumulated negative actions.
The right hand tail of the bell curve just crept over onto the right hand side of the see saw. This tiny bit was white, and represented my accumulated positive actions. The white bit was my actual positive actions, far far outweighed by my negative ones.
This scared me because I remembered about the sufferings of lower realms, which these actions will produce. So many negative actions! I developed a very uncomfortable feeling, and stayed with it for a while.
Then I considered what I should do – I should stop creating negative actions by not engaging in the ten non-virtuous actions. I should purify negative karma by sincerely engaging in confession and purification practices. And I should create virtuous actions. All three actions will cause the bell curve to shift to the right.
I imagined bell curve shifting slowly, first reaching the mid point, then tipping the see saw to the right, becoming more white than black. Then I imagined the bell curve continuing to move until it was almost completely white, almost completely on the right hand side of the see saw. I recognised that by engaging in this process I would find it easier and easier to engage in virtue, like a feed back loop. Finally I would only experience positive experiences.
Bearing all this in mind, I determined to stop creating negative actions, purify negativity and accumulate virtue. I developed the strong wish to do all these three things from now on, and stayed with this wish for the rest of my meditation.
After my 8 hour drive to get to our cottage, we arrived to find a lovely farmhouse with vast views of the surrounding countryside. Our friends had not arrived yet, so after a quick cuppa and unloading the car, I took the opportunity to put my meditation cushion in front of a sash window in our bedroom and do my meditation. Outside was a beautiful view of fields going off into the distance, with a blue tinted church with a square tower on the horizon. I asked the kids to keep the noise down (but after 8 hours in the back of a car, you can’t expect them to be quite). They crashed around upstairs for a bit, but then my wonderful wife shooed them into the garden, and I was left to my playlist. After the long drive, the meditation was a wonderful, refreshing experience. As I was coming to the end, our friends arrived, so I dedicated and went to greet them.
I am surprised at how much explanation the meaning of my meditations is taking! It happens quicker on the cushion!!