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The purpose of this meditation is to generate a feeling of appreciation and respect for the Lamrim teachings, and then to consider what this means in terms of reliance upon a Spiritual Guide.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then I started my contemplation by considering the special qualities of Lamrim. The 21 meditations hold all the teachings of Buddha. Every time we cycle through the Lamrim meditations, we are books-jpgf-frontpractising, either directly or indirectly, all of the 84,000 teachings of Buddha. We are opposing all our delusions, and becoming familiar with how to recognise them, reduce them and finally be free of them. If every one of Buddha’s teachings can be regarded as a Dharma Jewel, then the Lamrim is surely the Supreme Dharma Jewel.

I contemplated how fortunate we all are to have the opportunity to meet these teachings: how fortunate we are to be able to travel the path to enlightenment. I focused on this feeling of peace and good fortune for a while.

I then thought about what this means in terms of reliance upon our supremely kind Spiritual Guide. It is our Spiritual Guide to leads us along the correct spiritual paths and draws us closer to enlightenment through his blessings. By relying upon him we will delight all the Buddhas and we are protected from harm from humans and non-humans alike. We are able to abandon our delusions and our negative actions easily under his guidance, and our practical experience of the spiritual path will increase. We will be held back from lower rebirth and we will always find qualified Spiritual Guides in all our future lives. Finally, we will fulfil all our temporary and ultimate wishes.

What is it that our Spiritual Guide teaches us, that will bring all these benefits? It is Lamrim – the Ultimate Dharma Jewel. With all these benefits in mind, I rested my mind on the beautiful feeling of relying upon my holy Spiritual Guide while at the same time recognising the benefits and special qualities of Lamrim.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise the special qualities of Lamrim, and follow their Spiritual Guide’s instructions to enter, make progress on, and finally complete the spiritual path to liberation and enlighenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to put all the Lamrim instructions into practice today and remember the kindness of my precious Spiritual Guide.

The purpose of this meditation is to consider the meaning of wishing love in the context of Lamrim.

I began with breathing meditation, settling my mind on more and more subtle aspects of my breath, until my attention was balanced and focused. While there, I tried to feel the stability and stillness of my Guru’s mind, and mix my mind with his mind. I stayed in that feeling for a while.

I then moved on to think about wishing love and Lamrim in general. Wishing love is the wish for all living beings to experience pure, everlasting, uncontaminated happiness. The Lamrim is a presentation of all Buddha’s teachings, showing how we can progress along the spiritual path to enlightenment. It seemed to me that wishing love was a stage where we see the fruits of the hard work we have done earlier in the Lamrim path. Earlier we have contemplated death and the sufferings of the lower realms, we have considered ways of freeing ourselves from suffering and we have considered our relationship to others. Each of these stages springs naturally from the previous stages.

It struck me that wishing love is completely made up of a collection of previous thoughts and attitudes, which, when gathered together, form a suitable collection to be called ‘wishing love’.

With this notion that wishing love springs naturally from the previous Lamrim minds, I focused on the feeling of wishing all living beings to be happy, and thought of my wish becoming stronger in my heart – a longing for all living beings to be happy. The feeling was lovely and I tried to keep it sharp in my attention for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

Through the virtues I have collected her, may all living beings experience pure, permanent, uncontaminated happiness.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to keep this feeling of wishing others to be happy

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the sincere wish for all living beings to be free from their suffering and then to meditate on this wish in light of Lamrim.

I began by mixing my mind with my Guru’s mind – trying to establish his mountain-like stability and his ocean-like depth and stillness in my own mind. When I had a really nice strong feeling of stability, depth and stillness, I moved on to the next stage.

I began by thinking about great compassion – the my wish for all living beings to be free from their suffering. Yesterday I had a lovely time at a friend’s barbeque. I spent the whole time talking to relatives of the host, and listening to the stories of their lives, and not saying anything about my life. One thing I noticed, especially with older people, is how unhappy and discontent they were. They were all suffering pretty much all the time. I thought about all these people, and imagined that they represented all living beings, and wished them true freedom from their sufferings. I really wished that they could be free. When I had this wish firmly in mind, I tried to remain on it for as long as possible.

After that, I thought about what this means in terms of the Lamrim cycle of meditations.

I realised that the Lamrim meditations lead me to a qualified mind of compassion. Compassion itself depends upon its parts, such as equanimity, affectionate love and cherishing love. Another essential component is the understanding of the sufferings of others, which Lamrim allows me to empathise with through my training in the Intermediate Scope. The Lamrim explains and gives experience of these parts, and naturally leads to qualified compassion. Compassion is the protector of migrators and the mother of the Buddhas. Lamrim gives me great compassion and all the attainments that follow on. How wonderful is Lamrim! With this joyous realisation, I fixed my mind on great compassion and tried to keep my attention firmly focused on it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings be freed from their suffering, and quickly attain the protection of Buddhahood, for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remember to wish freedom from suffering on everyone I meet.

The purpose of this meditation is to meditate on the entire Lamrim in light of equalising self and others.

I began with some breathing meditation, slowly letting my attention settle on the breath until is was calm and centred.

I then started to think about the Lamrim meditations. They are a cycle of meditations which contain the entire path to enlightenment. I imagined them like  a glowing ring surrounding me. Each time I complete a cycle, they glow just a little bit brighter. I imagined them glowing brighter and brighter until my normal appearances and conceptions were completely lost in the light, and I felt completely mixed with the Lamrim and enlightenment.

I then thought about what this means in light of equalising self and others.

Equalising self and others is one of the Lamrim meditations, and a fundamental step on the path to enlightenment. Equalising self and others is a beautiful feeling – one of equality and shared love. How wonderful to be trying to build this into one’s mind and life!

I returned to the feeling of bright light surrounding and permeating me, and stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all the virtue I have accumulated here ripen upon all living beings, and may they quickly attain the supreme inner peace of full enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remind myself of the special virtuous qualities of the Kadam Lamrim, and of how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to mix my mind with these meditation objects – what is more meaningful in this world?

 

The purpose of this meditation is to contemplate the meaning of Lamrim in light of the kindness of all living beings.

I began with some breathing meditation to calm my mind, and then moved on to the main meditation.

I thought about the Lamrim and how it is a complete path to enlightenment. How lucky we are to have access to this beautiful presentation of Dharma wisdom. I thought of Atisha, who first presented Dharma in the form of Lamrim as a way of explaining Buddha’s wisdom to the Tibetans. At that time there was much confusion in Tibet about what was authentic Buddhist philosophy and what was not. Atisha made the Buddhadharma clear with his Lamrim, and gave everyone the opportunity to understand the path and to complete it.

I thought about this precious opportunity that I have in the palm of my hands, and the great kindness of Atisha and the subsequent Buddhist masters who have passed on this wisdom down the centuries, unchanged. I felt very grateful and humble.

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

Dedication

May all living beings find Lamrim through the kindness of others, and make swift progress along the internal path to enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to follow the path to enlightenment with Atisha’s light showing the way.

The purpose of this meditation is to consider the whole Lamrim cycle of meditations in the light of the fact that all living beings are our mother.

I began by doing breathing meditation, and when my mind was sufficiently stable I moved on to consider what the Lamrim is and what it means.

Lamrim is a series of 21 perfect mental attitudes or realisations. It captures the whole Buddhadharma perfectly.

I thought about these points and I imagined my mind mixing completely with the whole of Buddha’s wisdom. How wonderful that I have found such clear and accessible instructions! I felt like my mind was mixing with the ultimate wisdom of Buddha, and I focused on this feeling of submersion, submission and completeness.

After a while I moved on to the next stage, which was to consider this in the light of the fact that all living beings are my mother. The Lamrim meditations include how we should view others. We should view others – recognise others – as our mothers. Ultimately, we practice Lamrim for the benefit of all our mothers, and we cannot achieve our ultimate goal without our mothers! They are both essential.

Once again I felt a completeness to the Kadam Lamrim – a sense of wonder and of my own good fortune. I focused on this feeling of completeness and meaning for the rest of the meditation – a very wonderful all-encompassing feeling.

Dedication

May all living beings experience the good fortune of practising the Lamrim instructions for the benefit of all their mothers. May they find ultimate happiness in the state of pure enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to watch my daily experiences and create minds in response which are Lamrim minds, and from there, develop Bodhichitta.

The purpose of this meditation is to contemplate the whole Lamrim cycle of meditations in the light of renunciation; the wish to be free from samsara.

I began the meditation by contemplating the sufferings of samsara – the continuous sufferings of birth, sickness, ageing and death as well as the frustrations everyday life. Unless I end this cycle, I will have to endure these sufferings again and again. I wished for a complete freedom, and wondered what it would be like.

As I meditated I noticed night was falling outside my window, and I noticed a star in the sky just becoming visible in the deepening blue. I thought that just as I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a star, I cannot imagine what it would be like to be completely free from suffering. Suffering pervades my whole existence – there is not one moment where there is nothing that could not be improved. Even in the most ideal circumstances suffering becomes manifest.

From downstairs the voices of my family drifted into my room. Every word they say speaks of the sufferings of samsara. They are sometimes unhappy about something – manifest suffering. At other times they are laughing about something – this just tells me that when their worldly amusements are over, they will feel loss, and suffering. It seemed to me that the entire world was made of suffering.

I sincerely wished to be free from it, like the star is free from the world, and cannot experience it. I felt like layer upon layer of suffering was being peeled away, and with each layer a new revelation of the sufferings was made apparent. Eventually I felt the removal of layers come to an end, and I felt completely free from all suffering and changing suffering – abiding in the perfection of emptiness.

I stayed with this for a while and then thought about what the Lamrim cycle means in the light of this freedom.

The Lamrim cycle is the perfect set of minds that will lead to this state – and beyond. It is completely perfect and reliable, and will lead me to freedom. The stages of the path of a person of middling scope are in the centre of the Lamrim cycle, marking the natural evolution of living beings as they follow their spiritual life.  Freedom from suffering comes part way through – a profound achievement but still not the final goal. It seemed like the middle of the Lamrim glowed with significance, and I stayed with this thought for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings become completely free from all suffering and changing suffering, and go on to become Great Beings for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will listen to the words of others, and see the truth in what they say – each word expresses their sufferings. I will pray continuously that I can complete the stages of the path of a person of middling scope, and become permanently free from samsara.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop an understanding of what the whole Lamrim cycle of meditations means in the context of actions and their effects.

I began by thinking about the Lamrim and where it comes from. Atisha presented Buddha’s teachings in the exact sequence I need in order to understand them all. This presentation has been passed from Master to disciple in an unbroken lineage over the centuries. It is a set of objects which I can use to purify and fine tune my mind. I can transform my ordinary troubled mind into the pure tranquil mind of a holy being by using the Lamrim.

The Lamrim is all about actions and effects. Normally we generate negative mental actions – delusions, which cause us problems. But if I instead generate Lamrim minds I will automatically be generating positive mental actions, which are the cause for peace, happiness and freedom.

I felt that the whole Lamrim cycle was a perfect understanding of actions and effects. It became apparent that of all the possible mental actions, the Lamrim represented the perfect set of actions to perform.

I felt like my mind was entering the circle of Lamrim – a perfect circle of perfect actions. My mind merged with these actions, and I recognised that it was also merging with my Guru’s mind. I made the determination to only allow Lamrim minds to arise in my mind, and to shun any negative thoughts. I imagined my mind being perfectly pure and virtuous, and focused on this feeling for the rest of the meditation. It was pure, expansive and blissful. I stayed with that feeling for the rest of my session.

Dedication

May all living beings fine tune their minds and become perfect Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will strive to gain control over my mind, and apply Dharma to whatever I meet.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a deep wish to go for refuge to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and then to think about what this means in the light of the whole Lamrim.

I began by thinking about how natural it is to seek protection from threats. We find secure places where we can relax, we lock our doors at night to protect ourselves. We seek the comfort and protection of friends and family.

But where can I find protection from suffering? Buddha teaches that suffering pervades our whole life.

In the past we could believe in paradises. Perhaps there was a land far, far away where everything was perfect and there was no suffering – a real Shangri-la. But now I know there is no such place. The television and the internet bring the whole world to my living room and I can see that there is nowhere in the world where I can go and escape suffering.

However, there is a direction I can turn to which will provide protection. I can turn to Buddha who shows me the truth of my situation. I can turn to the Dharma, Buddha’s perfect instructions for pacifying and destroying my problems. I can turn to the Sangha, my spiritual friends who will help me in my quest. I turn to these Three Jewels for protection.

I thought about how the Three Jewels are my protection. I can do no more that to go completely to the Three Jewels for refuge. I felt a very clear and safe feeling of protection. I felt a strong need to seek this protection – protection from the sufferings of samsara. I focused on this feeling for a while.

I then thought about what this means in the light of the 21 Lamrim meditations as a whole. The Lamrim IS the Dharma. All of Buddha’s teachings are condensed into the Lamrim, and by meditating on the Lamrim, we are meditating on ALL of Buddha’s teachings. I felt wonderful! I go for refuge to Buddha, Lamrim and Sangha!! I felt that my practice of Lamrim gave total meaning to my life – a joyful and valiant feeling. I stayed with this for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings go for refuge to the Three Jewels, and become Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Session

I will go for refuge constantly to the Three Jewels and to the Lamrim as the embodiment of the Dharma and try to feel the living presence of Buddha with me at all times.

Meditation 4/4

The purpose of this meditation is to consider the whole of the Lamrim within the context of the dangers of lower rebirth.

I began the meditation by thinking about the Lamrim. It is a special presentation of all Buddha’s instructions. By meditating on all the Lamrim objects we are becoming familiar with the entire path to enlightenment. I thought of all the Buddhist Libraries around the world, full of scriptures and commentaries. I thought about what I would have to do if there was no Kadam Lamrim. I would have to travel to all these libraries and learn the languages of the texts – then read and understand them, and then practice them. There is no way I could do it.

I thought about how fortunate we are to have Geshe Kelsang, who has learnt and practised all the stages of the path, and who, out of his great compassion, has planned out and written Kadam Lamrim texts for us to study and put into practice. Kadam Lamrim is the presentation appropriate to the people of this world. I rejoiced at this recognition – how wonderful!

I then thought about the dangers of lower rebirth and what this means for the Lamrim. The purpose of meditating on the dangers of lower rebirth is to produce a sincere fear of taking lower rebirth. We need to have a genuine terror of being born in the lower realms.

Most of the time we are simply in denial of this possibility, but if we contemplate life with wisdom we will find that the sufferings of the lower realms will be as real as this world and experience is to us now.

Along with death, it seemed to me that recognition of the dangers of lower rebirth was the essential foundation of the entire path to enlightenment. Firstly we need to understand we are going to die. Without that acceptance we cannot begin to make progress on the path. But one we accept the reality of our death, we need to understand that we have future lives and they will be far worse that this current life. We need to generate genuine eye-widening, stomach dropping terror.

Click the picture to find out more about bear farming

I decided to imagine I was a bear being used to produce ‘traditional medicines’. I imagined I was in a cold metal cage. I was in constant pain. I could not move. The part of my body next to the base of the cage was covered in open wounds from the constant pressure of my body weight. I could not communicate with anyone else. I had an open wound in my stomach and a pipe protruding out. It was so painful. My whole body was saturated in pain. I wanted to die so the pain would end but I was being kept alive. My captors were completely oblivious to my pain. They did not have any emotional connection at all to my suffering. In some ways, if I was being tortured by someone who was taking pleasure in my pain, at least in some bizarre way I could take comfort in the fact that I had a companion. But here I was alone – in terrible pain and no-one cared.

I let the feeling of suffering fill me, and kept one part of my mind on the recognition that I need to keep this suffering in my mind so I will sincerely practice the stages of the path of a person of initial scope, and from that solid foundation, practice the stages of the path of a person of middling and great scope.

Dedication

May all living beings use their Dharma wisdom, overcome their denial, and by recognising the sufferings of lower rebirth, make swift progress upon the path to enlightenment, and become Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

To motivate my moral discipline, I will try to remember the sufferings of my future lives, which could begin AT ANY TIME.

Modern Buddhism

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