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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.

boilingkettle2When 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.

Dedication

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 generate the wish to always remember the consequences of our actions and to be extremely cautions in our actions, avoiding non-virtue and gathering abundant virtue.

Geshe-la with teaI began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then started by contemplating karma in general. Karma is a deeply hidden object, and only Buddhas can know which actions lead to which particular effects. But we can have faith in the truth of karma because the Buddhas and the Gurus tell us it is true. They have nothing to gain by deceiving us because they already have everything they need. All they want is for us to be free from our suffering too. Why deceive us? On this basis, we should simply accept the truth of karma, and then contemplate the consequences of this very natural and logical process.

I thought about how all my actions cause all my experiences. All my suffering and dissatisfaction come from my past n0n-virtuous actions. All my happiness and contentment come from my past virtuous actions. Given that this is the case, I need to always be extremely cautious when engaging in any actions. I need to check the action itself and also my motivation. I need to try to make sure both are as pure and virtuous as possible. I need to be mindful all day, and keep a clear intention.

I focused on this idea of a clear intention to practice virtue throughout the day, and I was slowly filled with a very clear and still feeling – perfect clarity of intention. It was very restful and blissful, and I stayed in this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings keep a perfect intention to create positive actions, and may they quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to overcome the incessant mental chatter I have to endure from my uncontrolled mind, and maintain an inner stillness which will allow me to think about all my actions, and maintain a virtuous intention.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the wish to only perform virtuous actions in recognition of the effects of actions.

books-jpgf-frontI began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then I called to mind a section from Joyful Path of Good Fortune, where Geshe-la talks about karma. He says that we can tell what attitudes we have held in the past and what actions we have performed in the past simply by observing our circumstances and experiences now.

If we experience poverty, it is because we were miserly in the past. If we are often angry, it is because we have repeatedly allowed the delusion of anger to control our mind in the past. If we enjoy good circumstances and find Dharma easy to practice, it is because we practised virtue and we meditated in the past.

We can make this connection with confidence because we can often see the connection between our actions and our experiences.

I thought about how my experiences and habits now have been caused by my previous actions, and I felt a very clear connection between them. It seemed very obvious that I need to practice virtue now so that I avoid suffering in the future. I focused on this and I developed the wish to practice virtue and to overcome my strong desires to perform non-virtue.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise the connection between their current situation and their past actions, and may they act in a way that brings them quickly to actualise their full potential.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to bear in mind the clarity of this meditation’s conclusion, and try to refrain from non-virtue.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate a recognition of the usefulness of understanding the law of karma.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then started this week’s set of meditations on karma by reminding myself that the law of karma is a special example of the law of cause and effect. Everything is the effect of something that happened beforehand, and the cause of something that happens afterwards. The law of karma is that our past actions are the cause of our current experiences, and that our current actions are the cause of our future experiences.

Statue in rockSometimes, I am tempted by negative actions.

Sometimes they seem so RIGHT.

By bearing in mind the law of karma, we can properly assess the overall benefits and disbenefits of acting in particular ways. Especially if we have studied the ten non-virtuous actions and their results.

Some negative actions seem RIGHT, but it is only because we have delusion and ignorance in our minds, and these two factors distort our decision making process. They only let us see the (usually) short term ‘benefits’ of the action. They hide the long term disbenefits from us, and stop us making a proper, balanced decision. In particular, our ignorance hides the suffering we will experience in future lives, or somehow makes it seem worth it!!

If we can stop and consider the long term disbenefits of acting in non-virtuous ways, we will see that the long term disbenefits far outweigh the short term ‘benefits’. Furthermore, we will be creating a tendancy which is similar to the cause, meaning that when we first break free of automatically committing negative actions, we create the mental pattern of being able to resist negative actions, and it becomes easier in the future. After all, Buddhas do not commit any non-virtuous actions at all – and we want to be Buddhas.

I did alot of contemplation today on this topic, and almost ran out of time to do placement meditation, but I did get a good feel for the intention to always bear in mind the full karmic results of negative actions, and to built the mental habit of resisting non-virtue, no matter how right or pleasurable it may initially appear.

Dedication

May all living beings begin to see the full consequences of their actions, use meditation to overcome their temptations, and build the mental habits that will lead them quickly to enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to spot when I am being carried away by delusion into committing negative actions, and try to consider the full ramifications of my actions before I go too far.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate strong fear of the sufferings of hell.

It is very important to understand what we are doing with this meditation, or else it will become a problem for us.

In this meditation, we strongly believe that we are bound to experience severe mental and physical pain in our next life. We try to understand this with all our heart. The purpose is to develop fear. We need to really, really fear this suffering. In order to develop strong fear, we need to really believe that this suffering will be horrible and it will definitely come to us.

Why do we need to do this?

We need to do this because unless we have this strong fear, we will not develop a strong wish to abandon the causes of this suffering, and we will have to endure it for real. At the moment, we have the opportunity to purify the negative karma that will cause this suffering, but unless we are fearful of experiencing this suffering, we will waste our lives in meaningless activities, and never get around to purifying our karma.

When we do this meditation, we need to understand that there is a way to avoid this suffering, but that unless we do something, this suffering will definitely come.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation.

black stairsI then thought about stepping into my next life. It was a corridor of black stone, leading to a flight of black stairs descending into acid. There was nowhere else to go, and I was impelled to walk slowly down the stairs and enter the acid. I felt it burn my feet, then my legs and so on, until I was completely submerged. I tried to imagine my whole body on fire with pain. As I went beneath the surface, a grille was thrown over the acid, preventing me from surfacing to take a breath. As I choked, the acid entered my throat, lungs and stomach, burning me from the inside. It also entered my other orifices, and burned me within. I felt it eating away at my body as I drowned in it, and also became aware of the soft sludge beneath my feet. These were the remains of my previous bodies: this is not the first time I have experienced this suffering.

I kept my mind focused on this experience, and the conviction that this will definitely happen to me (with the thought in the back of my mind ‘unless I purify my negativities and stop committing negative actions).

It was a most uncomfortable experience, but I will be able to use it to great effect later.

Dedication

May all living beings see that unless they stop committing negative actions and purify their negativity, they will definitely experience the sufferings of the lower realms.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remain mindful of the inevitability of suffering in samsara, and keep Bodhichitta as my motivation in all my actions.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong wish to practice Dharma all day, every day.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then brought back the conclusions from my previous meditations on death. Firstly, that I will definitely die. I imagined everyone around me will die, and then I focused on the fact that I, too will die. Once again I remembered that all the trappings of this life will leave me, and that they were never really ‘mine’ in the first place. I felt liberated.

I then thought about the fact that I have no idea when I will die – could be tomorrow, could be today. People are dying from completely unexpected causes every day.

all dayThis brought me to my third point of contemplation – what happens after I die? Death is not obliteration. If the world and myself were inherently existent and separate entities (as they appear to be, superficially) then death would certainly be the complete end of everything. But the world and myself do not actually exist in this way. In fact, the world and myself are mere appearances to consciousness. All my experiences are like projections which I mistakenly believe are real and separate from my consciousness. Death is simply another appearance, and following death more appearances will follow.

What causes these appearances? Karmic potentialities within my mind which ripen moment by moment, cause these appearances. Positive karmic seeds cause pleasant appearances, and negative karmic seeds cause unpleasant experiences. When I die I will be at the mercy of these appearances.

I asked myself what I am going to do about this?

The answer is that I need to use my current opportunity to purify as much of my negative karma as possible, and I need to generate as much positive karma as possible. Ideally, I need to attain liberation and enlightenment before I die. To do all these things, I need to practice Dharma. I need to practice Dharma now, purely, and constantly. I need to practice Dharma all day, every day.

This was a good firm conclusion, and I focused on it for the rest of the meditation. When my mind became distracted, I brought my attention back to the object by quickly reviewing the contemplation, and once I had re-established the object, I focused on it once more. I felt at first like I would have an extra ‘layer’ of spiritual activity on top of my daily activities, but this slowly became and understanding that my spiritual activities and my worldly activities should not be thought of as being separate. The worldly activities should be transformed into spiritual activities by having the motivation of Bodhichitta and the appreciation of the emptiness of all phenomena.

Dedication

May all living beings use their lives to attain liberation and enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to sustain this wish to transform all my worldly activities into the spiritual path, all day, every day.

The purpose of this meditation is to make the determination to gather virutous energy in our minds and to purify our negative energy. We then rely upon our Spiritual Guide to enable us to do this.

I made the usual preparations for meditation, and then began by remembering that the scientific process involves the observation of natural phenomena, and then the derivation of explanations, which are then tested through further observations or, if possible, experimentation. How is it that when we say harsh words to someone else, they hit us and cause us pain? How can our mere words end up with the experience of physical pain? These two things are very different, and yet they are obviously part of the same continuum. They are the same ‘energy stream’, if I can use that unsatisfactory term. How is it that our words cause us pain?

The scientific explanation is that of karma and intention. Because of our uncontrolled mind lacking wisdom, we generate a harmful intention. This intention generates harmful words which cause negative imprints to be laid down in our mind. These imprints are like seeds which later grow and bear fruit in the form of harmful experiences.

white mountainThis is a scientific explanation because it corresponds with observations. The underlying mechanism, karma, cannot be observed directly, but it is not unusual for a process to be scientifically understood without a precise understanding of the underlying mechanism. The precise method by which many drugs work is not understood fully, and yet we administer them because we know the cause and effect of the remedy – and that is enough. We do not say ‘Ah – Doctor! You do not understand how this drug works, so I forbid you from using it!’ We say ‘We do not understand quite how this drug works, but we will use it because we know it DOES work’.

In the samy way, we can accept the law of karma as true, and have faith in it, because its principles hold true evey though we cannot see karma directly. Buddhism is so practical!

I thought about these points, and thought about my mind being a collection of these karmic seeds, like black pebbles (negative) and white pebbles (positive). I looked and I saw that I had a mountain of black pebbles in my mind! I decided that I would gather white pebbles only from now on, and purify the black pebbles constantly. I looked and I saw a load of white pebbles appear on the mountain, and some of the black pebbles disappear. I imagined this happening again and again, and slowly I saw a white mountain of virtuous karma grow, so that eventually all the black pebbles were gone, and my white mountain grew more and more.

Eventually the white mountain became a crytsal of wisdom light, and I thought ‘This is me – I am wisdom light’. It struck me that this is inevitable. If I keep on accumulating virtue, my mind cannot help but transform into a Buddha’s mind. It is unavoidable.

I focused on the wish to gather virtuous actions and to purify negativity each and every moment – I rested my mind on this for a while.

I then imagined my Guru sitting on top of my white mountain of virtue – it is through his instructions that the mountain can grow. Through reliance upon him, I can gather virtue and purify my negativity. I brought into my mind a sincere appreciation of his help, and determined to gather and purify through reliance upon him. This was my final object of meditation, and I focused on it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings gather virtue and purify negativity, and may their minds transform into wisdom jewels for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will use my wisdom to perform virtuous actions and to purify my negativities.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the determination to purify our negativities and to act in virtuous ways from now on, and then to meditate on this determination in light of great compassion.

I began by dissolving by Guru into my heart, and feeling as though my entire experience of the world was shot through with his compassion and wisdom. Although superficially the world was the same, it was also completely different. After a while I realised that it was not just my ‘external’ world which was different – my self was also completely mixed with my Guru’s mind, and I felt a deeper level of happiness fill me. I focused on this blissful feeling for a while…

After this, I moved on to the main meditation which was about karma. The law of karma is a proposition based on the generally accepted concept of cause and effect. The law of karma is that our actions are the cause of our future experiences. If we act in good ways, we our future experiences are good, and if we act in bad ways, our future experiences are bad. To act in good ways means to cherish others and to practice moral discipline.

I thought about how this idea puts us all in control of what happens to us in the future. We are not dependent on blind luck or some capricious deity. We create our own destiny. Far from surrendering control of our lives to a higher being, the law of karma forces us to take complete control.

I thought about this and it seemed to me that we are like a traveller in an dusty and mountainous landscape. Without an understanding of the path to enlightenment, we are simply wandering randomly, experiencing random pleasures and hardships. With an understanding of the path to enlightenment, we are aware of a goal we can reach – the shining city of enlightenment.

By purifying our negativities we are making our journey easier. I imagined that as I purify my negative karma, the mountains, boulders and rocks on my path gently dissolve into a lovely smooth ground – the gullys and ravines fill to the same level. As I act in virtuous ways, pools of water and fruit trees appear along my path, providing me with nourishment. All the while, I can see the city of enlightenment in the distance. My path leads directly towards it.

I focused on this understanding of the effect of accumulating virtue and purifying negativity, and I remained with this understanding for a while until a determination arose that I HAVE to accumulate virtue and I HAVE to purify my negativities if I want to attain the city of enlightenment. When this feeling was strong, I stayed with it for a while…

After that, I wondered what this meant in terms of great enlightenment.

I thought about what the karmic effect is of holding great compassion in my heart. With great compassion, I spontaneously wish for others to be free from all their suffering. The karmic effect of this will be that all living beings will spontaneously wish for me to be free from my suffering! I imagined my journey across the dusty landscape, and imagined being helped by many people – friends, strangers, even people who I believe do not like me. Everyone helped me along my journey. How wonderful.

With this in mind, I returned to the wish to accumulate virtue and to purify my negativities, because of all the benefits it will yield, and I focused on this wish for the rest of the meditation…

Dedication

May all living beings understand the law of karma, and through this understanding, act in ways which will allow them to attain the city of enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to keep this wish in mind throughout the day – the wish to act in virtuous ways, for the benefit of myself and others.

 

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.

Dedication

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.

Note:

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 a feeling of wishing to purify our negativity and to accumulate a vast amount of merit on the basis of our understanding of karma. Then we can look at what this means in light of the advantages of cherishing others.

I began with some breathing meditation and then moved on to the main topic.

I started by thinking about what karma means. All the appearances I perceive arise from my karma. The virtuous actions I have created in the past lead to pleasant appearances and experiences. Conversely, negative actions lead to unpleasant results. I thought about how all my appearances are not ‘real’ or ‘out there’, but are actually projections from my own mind. I felt like I was in a sort of virtual reality simulation, where appearances arose around me – they appeared real, but lacked any inherent existence at all.

I realised that it is pointless to get angry or try to change these appearances. Getting angry with people is like getting angry with clouds – it makes no sense. Instead of reacting to projected images, I should think about what I can do with the projector itself. My very subtle mind projects all these images, and if I can purify my karma and not perform any more impure actions, I can purify my projector. Slowly, all my appearances will become pure – a pure body, with pure enjoyments in a pure environment.

I imagined my mind becoming steadily more pure because of my purification and virtuous actions, until I felt completely pure. Once I experienced this, I focused on it as constantly as I could.

After a while, I wondered what this meant in light of the advantages of cherishing others. It was clear straight away that basis of all my virtuous actions can be the wish to cherish others. This thought will purify my negativities and keep my actions virtuous – it is my method!

With this thought, I returned to the feeling of purifying my very subtle mind of all negativities, and stayed with that delightful feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings understand the law of karma, and through this realisation quickly become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to keep my actions pure, and use the four opponent powers to purify my negative karma.

Modern Buddhism

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