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The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong determination to abandon non-virtuous actions and only perform virtuous actions, and then to meditate on this in light of exchanging self with others.
I began with breathing meditation, focusing on increasingly subtle signs of breathing, until my mind was focused on just the slightest idea of the breath. I then decoupled my attention from even this thought, and floated free from any conceptual thought at all, enjoying a completely still and stable feeling.
From there, I began thinking about what this meditation means. My karma is like a shadow of my body. My shadow has a unique shape different from everyone else’s. It is also mine and no-one else’s. I have created my own karmic reservoir and it is mine to experience – no-one else’s. I am responsible for my karma – no-one else can give me it or take it away.
I thought about how I create karma. In actual fact, it is all about my intentions. If I intend to do something, then I will do it. Once I have decided to do something based on my intentions, I will do it and reap the karmic consequences.
I thought about the tenth commitment of training the mind: I will not follow delusions. If I follow delusions, I will commit negative actions, so I must watch my mind constantly and not follow delusions. I must abandon delusions as soon as then arise, and choose a different, virtuous path.
I got an image of being in a vast complex maze, where at each point there were a number of possible paths I could take. By looking at each path with wisdom I could see which ones led to broken bridges. If I take the paths that lead to broken bridges, I will fall to the level below. But if I take the paths with sound bridges, I rise up to a higher level. The different paths represented the different actions I could take at any moment in time. The broken bridges were non-virtuous actions which cause me to fall into lower realms. Sound bridges were virtuous actions which would lead me to higher realms.
I thought about this analogy, and how if I can use Buddha’s wisdom and blessings, I can find my path up and up to the highest level – to enlightenment.
I focused on this feeling of choosing my intention, not following delusions, and rising up by following a path of virtue. With this recognition, I let a pure and progressive feeling fill my mind, and I focused on it for a long while.
After that, I wondered what this meant in light of the practice of exchanging self with others. I realised that the choices I make each moment should be informed by abandoning self-cherishing and cherishing only others. I should abandon selfish actions, and also recognise that all phenomena are empty of inherent existence. Thereby I will abandon self cherishing and self grasping – the two causes of my creating negative intentions.
With this in mind, I refocused on not following delusions and watching my mind moment by moment. Once again I was filled with the feeling of careful, mindful progress to enlightenment, and I stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings understand the law of cause and effect, and recognise the implications fully, so that they may quickly abandon non-virtue, practice only virtue, purify their negativities, and swiftly rise up to the highest state of enlightenment.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to watch my mind constantly, remind myself not to follow delusions and to see everything as empty of inherent existence.
I will be taking a break in a special place for the next few days, and in order to focus completely on my spiritual practice, I will be taking a break from posting. See you when I get back. Love, Vide.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate Bodhichitta – the spontaneous wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings, and then to meditate on this wish in light of the fact that all living beings are our mother.
I began by doing some breathing meditation, and quickly settled into a smooth and blissful state. From there I began the main meditation by reviewing the whole Lamrim up to this point.
I now have a precious human life which will come to an end soon. My future happiness depends on my actions right now, so I need to always think and act in virtuous ways. Although I can improve my samsaric experience to a certain extent, it will always be pervaded by suffering, so I need to escape samsara altogether. I can do this by training my mind. But once I am free, what of others?
My perceptions of others is deceptive and although they seem very varied, they are in fact all my kind mothers from this and previous lives. As they are my kind mother, I naturally love them. And understanding that true happiness comes from loving others and abandoning self-cherishing, I determined to cherish them totally. They experience suffering, and I imagined taking away their suffering. They lack true happiness and I imagine giving them happiness.
This taking and giving produces good results but I want to be able to do this in reality – I want to have the actual power to take and give. The only way I can do this is to perfect my mind and become a Buddha.
I focused on this wish to become a Buddha for the sake of all my mothers.
I thought about my mother of his life. She loves me so much – she would do anything for me if she could. If she knew how to free me from my suffering she would do everything she could to free me. But now the opportunity is mine. It is my responsibility to free her from her prison. Her and every one of my other kind mothers, who would free me in a heartbeat if they could.
I generated a very strong feeling of love and obligation towards my mothers, and a strong determination to attain complete perfection of mind so I can free them. I will set them free! I focused on this wish for a while.
I then thought about what this means in light of the fact that all living beings are my mother. I have already incorporated this notion into my meditation so I kept this recognition especially strong as I returned to my main object – the wish to become enlightened for the benefit of all.
May the virtues I have generated in this meditation be the cause of enlightenment for all living beings, and may then experience the bliss of enlightenment quickly.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will keep the mind of enlightenment throughout the day, and the rest of my life.
The purpose of this meditation is to train our mind in stability, so that it we can hold an object of meditation in our mind perfectly and continually in order to know it thoroughly.
I began the meditation by deciding to use compassion as my object of meditation.
I generated the mind of compassion by remembering my love for all living beings without exception, and then remembering how they are constantly tormented by suffering. I let my mind fill with the wish that they be free from their suffering.
Once I had a fairly strong feeling I stopped thinking about generating the mind, and just focused on the feeling of compassion. I tried to keep my mind balanced and stable. I tried to stop it wandering to different objects, and when it did, I brought it back to compassion as smoothly as possible.
As I meditated, it seemed to me that the wish solidified into a sort of platform on which all my further attainments could be built. It felt strong and solid, but it was still compassion. I focused on this feeling for the rest of the meditation, returning my mind to the object whenever it wandered.
May all living beings find the opportunity to train their minds in tranquil abiding, develop strong clear realisations, and complete the path to Enlightenment quickly.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to remain focused on whatever I am doing, and not let my mind wander. When I am brushing my teeth, I will try to remain in the moment. Likewise when I am washing, walking or with others, I will try to remain focused and in the moment at all times.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate a strong wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all – the supreme mind of Bodhichitta.
I began the meditation by looking at the whole of the Lamrim. I remembered how my life is the perfect basis to attain enlightenment, that I will die soon, like Andrea; that my actions will create my future and that the way to gain true meaning in my life it to go for refuge to the Three Jewels. I remembered that there is no real happiness in samsara so I need to gain liberation to be free. I remembered that I am not alone in samsara – all other living beings have been my mother and they are all trapped in this prison of suffering. I remembered my actions of taking and giving, and how these actions purify my negativities. Finally I recognised that although I have a strong wish to free all living beings from suffering, there is only one way I can actually do this: I need to become a Buddha for the benefit of all.
I focused on this wish and brought the final result into my life. I imagined that I had become a Buddha. I felt completely free, and completely in contact with all living beings. I was with them all simultaneously. I was able to bless their minds and give them peace of mind. I was able to manifest as Spiritual Guides, and lead them on the path to Enlightenment. I felt like I was everywhere at the same time, and pervaded by golden light. It felt peaceful, expansive and beautiful. All the time I kept the recognition that I have not achieved this yet, but it is my one and only true aspiration for my life. I stayed with this mind for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop and fulfil the aspiration to attain Enlightenment for the sake of all living beings.
Practice in the meditation break
I will try to recognise the truth of all Lamrim minds in my daily life and use everything I see as a reason why I need to become Enlightened as quickly as possible for the sake of all living beings.
How Should We View Sadhanas?
Sometimes the way we view Sadhanas interferes with our ability to practice them effectively. A fundamental mistake is to treat the Sadhana as an ordinary samsaric object and ‘doing’ a Sadhana as an ordinary samsaric activity.
We may think: ‘I am doing the Sadhana and IT will make ME feel good’.
It is incorrect to view a Sadhana as something that will DO something to US, through its own power. This is treating the Sadhana as an ordinary samsaric object, like chocolate. Worldly people think that chocolate DOES something TO them: makes them feel good from its own side. However we all know that when we eat chocolate it is good to start with, but the more we eat, the less pleasurable it becomes, until it turns to pain.
In the same way, this view of Sadhanas may be effective to begin with. We may get some good feelings due to the delusions such as pride: ‘Aren’t I good, doing my Sadhana every day?’. However reasons like this are hollow. The good feelings they generate will fade quickly. Over time we will lose our motivation and the Sadhana will become mundane.
So how should we view Sadhanas?
I think of a Sadhana as a tool we need to use in order to make something. It is a tool to manufacture enlightenment in our own mind. The Sadhana is something we need to use to generate particular states of mind. We generate these minds based on the instructions in the Sadhana, and they become permanent parts or our mind due to the power of familiarity. This is the method for becoming an enlightened being.
We should view a Sadhana as a machine that we need to power and operate. By using the Sadhana, we will slowly generate enlightenment in our minds.
By the end of the Sadhana we need to be satisfied that it has achieved its function. We need to have felt something in our heart during the Sadhana. If we did not, I do not think we were fully successful. What is it that we should feel? That depends on the Sadhana, and I will answer this question in the last of this series of posts.
So now we know the correct way to view a Sadhana, how should we actually practice them? I will answer this in the next post.
Coming next: Interaction, not recitation
The aim of this meditation is to generate a strong feeling of cherishing others – the feeling that their happiness and freedom are important.
I began the meditation by thinking about how I let my wishes and the wishes of others come into conflict. What happens when I want something and others want something different? I argue and sulk! How childish! I dress it up in all kinds of adult justification, but at bottom that’s what it amounts to.
This is self-cherishing. It interferes with my relationships and makes me miserable – it ruins my opportunity to grow close to others and share their lives.
I thought about what I should do in these circumstances. I should make their wishes my wishes. I should find out what it is they want, and make it my business to help them achieve it. Their wishes should be my wishes. I thought about this for a while and it seemed like my ‘energy’ in one direction was altering course to go in the same direction as someone else’s energy, like a ship altering course to come alongside another. And their efforts were combined in the same direction, rather than remaining separate, and being in conflict.
It felt like I was melting into the other person, forgetting about my selfish wants, and putting all my concern into the other person’s needs and wants. It felt like I was intimately mixed with the other person – at one with them. It was a very satisfying and wholesome feeling. I stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.
May I and all living beings realise the advantages of cherishing others, and through this attain enlightenment for the sake of all mother beings.
Practice in the meditation break
I will try to abandon my selfishness, and see others wishes as my goal. I will put my effort into finding out what others want, and helping them achieve it.
During the meditation an objection arose in my mind – what if others want to harm someone else, or perform some other non-virtuous action? Should I help them do this? The answer is – in real life – no. We should not pander to or encourage others’ delusions. But this qualification interfered with the direction of my meditation, so I decided that for the sake of the meditation I would take the following view: either others’ wishes were virtuous, or if not, then I would influence them while helping them so they ended up being virtuous. Then I put that objection to one side and focused on making my wishes the same as others’.