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In the final post in this series, I will be looking at the dedication verses at the end of the Sadhana.
As well as generating a strong virtuous motivation before the Sadhana, we should also be very careful to not let our concentration wane at the end of the Sadhana, but dedicate just as strongly.
Each Sadhana performs a certain function, and we can ascertain this function by reading the Dedication. In the Prayers for Meditation the dedication reads:
“Through the virtues I have collected,
by practising the stages of the path,
May all living beings find the opportunity
To practice in the same way.
May everyone experience
The happiness of humans and gods,
And quickly attain enlightenment
So that samsara is finally extinguished.”
From this dedication we can see that the purpose of engaging in the Prayers for Meditation is actually to benefit others.
We start by recognising that we have generated a vast amount of merit by engaging in the practice. Then we dedicate all these virtues or merit to three main goals. Firstly we dedicate our merit so that all living beings will find the opportunity to meet the Lamrim teachings and practise them as we are doing. If we believe that Lamrim is the way to make our lives truly meaningful, then wishing others to have the same opportunity is the ultimate expression of our cherishing love for them.
Secondly we wish for all living beings to attain fortunate rebirths in future, and be spared lower rebirth.
Finally we wish that all living beings quickly attain enlightenment, so that samsara will come to an end.
If we meditate on these dedications and gain a deep understanding of what this Sadhana will achieve, we will easily develop a strong motivation to engage in the practice sincerely and with strong concentration.
One important benefit of dedicating properly at the end of the Sadhana is that it prevents our merit from being destroyed by delusions such as anger. If we fail to dedicate properly after performing any virtuous act, the merit will be destroyed the next time a delusion arises in our mind. Geshe-la says delusions are like a thief whole steals the treasure of our merit. Therefore it is essential that during the dedication we pay attention to the meaning of the words, and feel in our heart that the merit is firmly dedicated to these three aims.
Another benefit is that the karmic effect of making these dedications is that it creates the cause for us to experience these benefits ourselves in the future. As we are dedicating the merit to the benefit of all living beings (whose number is countless), the merit we generate is likewise almost unlimited. We can even dedicate the merit created by the dedication.
I hope you have enjoyed this short series on how to practise Sadhanas. It was hearing these instructions and using them in my practice that was responsible for my current level of practice – if you put them into practice I am sure you will receive much benefit. Thanks for reading, and best of luck!
May all living beings find great joy in practising the stages of the path, and quickly attain enlightenment for the sake of all living beings.
The purpose of this meditation is to improve our concentration on our object of meditation.
I began by choosing my object of meditation from the other Lamrim objects. I chose Reliance on my Spiritual Guide. I contemplated the benefits of relying on my Guru. He will lead me along correct spiritual paths. I will find my delusions easy to overcome by following his guidance. He will bless my mind so my progress will be swift. In this way my life will become meaningful and I will find true inner peace.
Holding all these points in my mind, I visualised my Spiritual Guide in front of me, embodying all these good results. I held him in the centre of my mind, and tried to relax and focus. I kept a part of my mind checking the quality of the object. If it started to fade and be replaced by another object, I revived my correct object. If the clarity faded I made it clear and strong again. I kept doing this throughout the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop the realisation of tranquil abiding, and attain enlightenment for the sake of all living beings.
Practice in the meditation break
I will not let my mind wander during the meditation break. When I am doing something which does not require full attention I will recite mantras.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate a strong wish that all living beings be freed from their suffering. This wish is compassion.
I began the meditation by thinking about my neighbours. Next door is separated and has a hard time raising unruly twins. Next door the other way are a retired couple – his mother has recently died, and he has had a hard time with that and making arrangements to sell his mother’s house. Across the road the lady lost her husband a few years ago and she is alone. I went through all my neighbours and thought about the suffering in their lives – the deep underlying suffering and dissatisfaction they experience. It seemed like, although the neighbourhood seems pretty happy and fulfilled, each person is experiencing deep suffering.
I thought about all the people in the world, who are all in a similar situation. Despite external appearances, to a greater or lesser extent they are all experiencing suffering. I thought about the fact that this suffering goes on life after life. And the more people struggle to find happiness the more they create the causes for future suffering, because their actions are controlled by their delusions of anger, jealousy, attachment etc.
It seemed like I was looking down at a diabolical spiral of living beings, all caught up in a steady descent into further, greater suffering. I recognised that samsara was a method to steadily increase the suffering of living beings, life after life, without end or mercy. I felt like I was with them, and each of their black hearts, filled with suffering, was with me. I tried to feel their suffering as if it were mine. I stayed with this feeling for a while.
Then I developed the wish that they could be freed from their suffering. I felt a strong, deep wish for them to be free. I felt like, if an infinitely strong wish could free them, then my wish was strong enough. I remained on this wish for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop great compassion, and attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.
Practice in the meditation break
I will watch for the suffering of others, and wish for them to be freed. I will see them as an example of the suffering of all living beings, and generate a mind of great compassion.