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Back from the festival. Feeling supercharged. Lets get to work.

The purpose of this meditation is to fire up our determination to complete the path to enlightenment.

I began by making appropriate preparations for meditation, and then brought to mind the following contemplation:

At present I have briefly reached the human world, and I have the opportunity to attain permanent liberation from suffering and the supreme happiness of enlightenment. If I waste this human life in meaningless activities, there is no greater waste, and no greater foolishness.

morpheusI thought deeply about this contemplation, and felt a deep, deep determination to apply dharma to all my daily activities. I want to live a dharma life. I want to move like an unstoppable warrior through my life. Whatever circumstances I meet I will transform into the path to enlightenment. I need fear nothing except death. Everything else makes me stronger. I felt like my Spiritual Guide has blessed me and now I cannot fail. I will complete the path to enlightenment. I will accomplish a Buddha’s enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings. I will use every moment of my precious human life to attain this goal. Nothing will stop me.

I focused on this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all Kadampas seize this precious human life and the blessings of our Spiritual Guide, and attain enlightenment swiftly for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will conquer all obstacles, and none shall conquer me.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the wish to put effort into going for refuge to the Three Jewels.

I began with the appropriate preparations for meditation.

I then thought about how I need to put effort into receiving the blessings of Buddha, put effort into practising Dharma purely, and put effort into receiving the help of Sangha friends.

book_mtb_frnt_2At the moment I am trying to understand the difference between an inherently existent self and a self that is self supporting and substantially existent. I know that the difference is subtle. My teacher has given me all the instructions she can. It is now up to me to make effort to understand.

I need to constantly request Buddhas blessings to soften my mind, and make the meanings of the instructions clear. I need to read and re-read the instructions to become more familiar with them. I need to talk to my spiritual friends to gain their insights and to learn what these words mean.

In this way, I will make my life maningful.

Therefore, I made the determination in my meditation that I will put effort into receiving Buddha’s blessings, putting Dharma into practice and receiving the help of my spiritual friends. I repeated this determination to myself, and after a while I felt like I was receiving help from Buddha and Sangha at the same time, and this was propelling me to understand Dharma and be able to fill my life with Dharma. I focused on this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings receive the blessings of Buddha, and the help of Sangha, and in this way, build the Dharma Jewel in their minds.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will constantly request Buddha’s blessings, I will read and re-read the instructions on understanding the difference between the inherently existent self and the self supporting substantially existent self, and I will continue to rely upon the support and help of my dear Sangha friends.

The purpose of this meditation is to mix our mind with the firm intention to practice Dharma purely all day.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then reminded myself that I am going to die. I thought about my plan to ensure that I get the most out of each day – I cannot afford to allow even one day to pass by without making the absolute most out of it.

QuotaI decided that I need to think that I will die tonight. I have only one day left. I must make the most of today. There is no tomorrow. Only today. I cannot waste even a moment.

I kept thinking about these points, and I developed a strong wish to mix all my experiences with Dharma.

Because all my experiences are empty, I can decide what they mean. Normally when I have a problem, the actual reason it is a problem is that I have designated it as a problem. There is no ‘problem’ from its own side. From now on I will designate all my experiences as ‘Dharma opportunities’, and I will keep track of my progress on my ticklist.

I focused on this wish to transform all my experiences, and I settled on this wish, along with the urgency that tonight will be the end – I will die tonight.

Dedication

May all living beings develop a sense of urgency about their lives, and find a way of making their lives meaningful before it is too late.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will redesignate all my experiences for Dharma.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong wish to integrate our dharma practice into our daily life.

Mona LisaI began by making the appropriate preparations and then reviewed all my meditations on the preciousness of human life. It is precious, rare and meaningful. It is meaningful only if we use it to practice virtue.

When should we practice virtue? When the time is right? After we have sorted out everything else in our life? After we have done our ‘to do’ list of mundane tasks today? In the evening? Or do we wait till retreats or festivals? Sometimes, after I have done my meditation in the morning, I find myself thinking ‘Great – I’ve done my practice for today’! Is this the right way to think?

No – we need to bring our method practices and our wisdom practice into our life TODAY – all day. We don’t need to wait.

As Geshe-la says in Modern Buddhism:

There is no difference between Kadam Dharma and people’s everyday experiences’ and ‘… Kadam Dharma accords with people’s daily experience, it cannot be separated from daily life

I decided that my object today would be to imagine that instead of my practice of virtue being ‘here’ and my day being ‘there’, that I would bring them together and realise that today, and my experiences today are my practice, coupled with my actions in relation to them. After a while of thinking about this, I felt a lovely feeling of non-duality between my self, my practice and my day. I decided to make today my masterpiece – try as hard as I can to mix dharma and my experiences completely, and make every day my practice. I focused on this for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings realise the preciousness of their human lives, and through their everyday experiences, practice dharma purely to attain the ultimate supreme goal: enlightenment for the sake of all living beings.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will see how often I can knowingly practice the six perfections and the Lamrim minds – my personal rules are that it only counts if I know I am practising virtue deliberately at the time and I dedicate the merit to all living beings.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong desire to learn and practice Dharma to make our precious human life meaningful, and then to meditate on this desire in the context of equalising self and others.

I began with breathing meditation, mixing my mind with my Guru’s mind. My mind was filled with a sense of stability (like a vast immovable mountain) and tranquillity (like a vast, deep ocean).

After a while of really enjoying this feeling of stability and tranquillity I moved on to the main meditation.

I thought of how my life is like a tool. At the moment I don’t understand how to use this tool properly, but if I learn how to use it, I can make myself and others truly happy. I thought of someone else talking to me, saying:

‘To learn how to use this tool would be wonderful. You could make everyone truly happy. It will take effort but you can do it. Even if you were not interested in making others happy because of your selfish mind, you could still use it to make yourself truly happy. To not do so would be truly bizarre, don’t you think?’

It seemed to me that I must use my precious human life to learn firstly how to improve my own life, and make it happy and meaningful. Once I have that level of ability I can develop and use my human life to help every other single living being.

I imagined joyfully reading Dharma texts, learning Dharma lists and outlines, and putting it all into practice for the benefit of all living beings.

I let my mind settle on this pure wish to study and practise Dharma right now – today. I focused on this wish for a while.

I then moved on to the second stage where I looked at this wish in light of equalising self and others – the wish to cherish others as much as I cherish myself. I thought that through using my precious human life in this way, I can learn to quickly equalise myself and others. I returned to my main object with this in mind, and once again settled on the wish to learn and practise Dharma for the sake of all living beings.

It felt wonderful and meaningful. I felt completely motivated to learn and practise Dharma as if nothing else mattered in my life – which is ok because by learning and practising Dharma, I will be caring for everything and everyone that is important to me.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise the precious human life they have. May they develop the wish to learn how to use their opportunity for their own and others’ benefit, and may they quickly begin and complete the path to enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

Today I will try to think about Dharma, mentally recite outlines and lists, and cherish others.

 

Note:

Do you recognise the tool shown in the picture? Do you know what it is, or how to use it? If you don’t know what it is or how to use it, how can you possibly gain any benefit from it? This is like our precious human life. Click on the image to find out more.

 

The purpose of this meditation is to encourage us to abandon our everyday distractions in favour of meaningful activities, and then to meditate on this wish in light of the kindness of all living beings.

I began with breathing meditation until my mind was still enough to proceed.

I then moved on to the main meditation. I began thinking about death and impermanence. In his book Meaningful to Behold, Geshe Kelsang makes the point that many people die an untimely death. It is no good protesting that we are not ready to die – that we have a family to support or that we too young and healthy. Death will come regardless of our wishes and expectations.

He relates the story of an ancient astrologer who decides one day to divine the date of his own demise. He makes his calculations and finds to his surprise that he should die that day. As he is wondering where he made his mistake, he picks up a long metal spike and begins to clean his ear of wax. At that very moment, a sudden gust of wind blows a nearby window shutter onto his elbow, driving the spike into his head and killing him instantly! We never really believe that our own death is close.

I thought about these points, and the recent death of the marathon runner in the London marathon. A surprising number of apparently healthy marathon runners die in the race from undiagnosed heart conditions. Even those in the best of health could be moments from death.

With all this in mind, I generated a strong recognition that I could die at any moment. I felt like I was balanced rather precariously on a knife edge, not knowing when I might fall. I used this feeling to generate the wish to use my life to practise Dharma:

I will engage in positive actions as much as I can. I will avoid negative actions whenever possible, and I will discipline my mind.

I repeated these points and generated a strong wish to do these three things today, as it may be my last.

After a while of focusing on this wish, I moved on to the next stage, which was to think about this wish in the context of the kindness of all other living beings.

I now have this precious human life because of the positive karma I have accumulated in past lives through the kindness of other living beings. When I am dying, I will know whether their kindness was worthwhile. I imagined all living beings there with me as I die, asking me if I have made the best use of their kindness. What will I say to them? This thought made me redouble my wish to use my life for the benefit of all living beings, and to dedicate my life to Dharma. I stayed with this wish for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings dedicate their lives to Dharma, and attain the perfect happiness of enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will shun non-virtue, practice only virtue, and discipline my mind today.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate a deep sense of going for protection to the Three Jewels, so that we can attain permanent liberation from the sufferings of samsara.

I began the meditation by remembering my fear of lower rebirth. I tried to relive the very real sense of fear I have previously generated. I then asked myself what I was going to do about this fear. I need to do something! At the moment I have good conditions but they will not last forever. I need to do something now to avoid the catastrophe awaiting me.

I generated deep faith in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, as the objects that can actually offer me protection from my fears. An image came to mind of a vast lightless void many miles deep. I was suspended in the middle of the void in a harness, attached to a rope. Someone was pulling the rope up through a circle of light high above me. It was the only source of light. The person pulling is Buddha, who is trying to release me from the dangers of samara. The rope is Dharma, the actual means of escape. The harness is Sangha, who keep me securely attached to the Dharma.

I understood how precarious my situation is, and how I have to put my complete trust in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to escape samsara. I focused on this feeling of trust and reliance on the three Jewels for the rest of the meditation. It felt like I had a connection with them all; a very solid connection which will be able to lead me out of the sufferings of samsara. It felt hopeful and safe.

Dedication

May all living beings take refuge in the Three Jewels, and escape samsara to become fully enlightened beings.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will keep my mind of refuge throughout the day, and recite the prayer of going for refuge as many times as possible, concentrating on the feeling I have developed in my meditation today.

The purpose of this meditation is to encourage us to make good use of our life by remembering that we will die.

I began the meditation by (yet again) thinking about a post on Luna Kadampa’s blog, Kadampa Life. Today she set an experiment which you should look at before reading this post.

I did the experiment today and realised that if we have an unlimited lifespan, we will have no motivation to do anything! I had similar feelings for if my life were to end in 50 years time. I felt differently about 10 years. This duration seemed to be rather more tangible. I felt like I would need to initiate a project which would take about 10 years to complete. A life of one year was frightening: I would quit my job and go into retreat – Dharma 24/7. A life of one month? I would know there is little I could now do except purify what karma I can in preparation for the next life. One day? Say my goodbyes and generate regret at my missed opportunity to attain enlightenment. If you want to know what goes through the mind of someone on the verge of death, see here.

My wife had a slightly different take. She also thought the unlimited and 50 year lifespan would not give any motivation to achieve anything. For ten years she would make sure she went to all the places in the world she wanted to go. One year? She paused at this. She said, although she didn’t feel she was very artistic, she would want to make something. For the shorter durations she wanted to see her family and write letters for our children to open at particular stages of their lives. As the time reduced, her priorities became closer to home – more personal. She felt a creative urge arise, and also a need to be with loved ones.

What I noticed was how the shorter timespans cause both of us to pause for longer and longer, thinking more carefully about how we would use the time.

It struck me when I started my meditation about how we do not value unlimited resources. We only value them when they are rare, or running out. Our life is like this. Normally we don’t think about death, so our life seems to be an unlimited resource. Only when we think about our death do we consider how we should really use it.

I thought about this carefully. I don’t know how long my life will be. It could end tomorrow. Cancer could take me in 6 months.

I felt that provided I practice Dharma purely all the time, everything else will slot into place. My relationships, my projects: everything. I felt like everything had slotted into place, and I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings remain mindful of death, and attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will work to create a Kadampa Temple with a capacity of at least 300 people in my county within the next 10 years.

The purpose of this meditation is to enable us to achieve permanent liberation from the sufferings of lower rebirth.

I began the meditation by thinking about what my precious Spiritual Guide, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says in his book Modern Buddhism. He says that having recognised that our present human life is only a temporary release from suffering, we should seek permanent liberation by going for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha – the Three Jewels of Buddhism.

We need to make a sincere promise to go for refuge to the Three Jewels. For as long as we keep this promise, we are inside Buddhism. If we break our promise we are outside Buddhism.

I focused my mind on this thought that by going for refuge to the Three Jewels I was ‘inside Buddhism’. I let my imagination work on the idea, and slowly developed the feeling of sincerely relying upon the Three Jewels as the answers to what I am looking for. I felt that the Three Jewels formed a triangle around me and I felt like I was receiving the pure blessings of all the Buddhas. I kept the notion of going for refuge, the Three Jewels, and being inside Buddhism in my mind. It felt very beautiful and calm, and very meaningful. I stayed in this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

Having correctly identified their true predicament, may all living beings enter Buddhism by sincerely going for refuge to the Three Jewels, and by so doing quickly attain Enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

Geshe Kelsang gives the practice in the meditation break in Modern Buddhism: I will apply effort to receive the blessings of Buddha, put Dharma into practice and receive help from the Sangha.

The purpose of this meditation is to make our Dharma practice effective by reducing and eliminating our attachment to the trivialities of this life.

I began the meditation by thinking about what Geshe-la says in Modern Buddhism about our mind and body. He says that our mind and body can separate. They separate when we sleep, and when we die. I thought about what it was like to go to sleep. When I go to sleep I slowly lose awareness of my body and mind, and there is a sort of blank time before I start dreaming. I have forgotten everything about my waking life by now, and I go to different places in the dream world. All that appear to me are dreams.

I thought about how it might be to die. I will slowly lose awareness of my body and mind, and everything will go blank until I become aware of the dream-like forms in the bardo. By this point I will have completely forgotten my parents, wife, children, house, job, hopes and aspirations. They will all have gone. I thought about how sad this was, and then decided that there was no point being sad because it will definitely happen

It could happen tomorrow, or even today. Sooner or later, it will happen today. I thought about how the only thing that matters is my karma, and how I need to practice purely with my family, friends and colleagues to purify my negative karma and to create the most positive karma I can. I felt a deep wish to practice Dharma purely, and I stayed with this determination for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May everyone become aware of their death and use this knowledge to practice Dharma purely, and thereby attain Great Enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remember my mortality, and try to practice purely by cherishing everyone I meet or think about.

Modern Buddhism

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