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The purpose of this meditation is to begin to gain the conviction that all living beings have been our mother through correct reasoning.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then started by recalling some of the logical reasonings given the the book Joyful Path of Good Fortune.

I focused on one particular line of reasoning: A barley seed comes from a crop which in turn comes from a barley seed. There is no fixed beginning to the barley seed. Whenever we look at the seed or the plant, it is always in the process of transforming from one state the to the next. There is no beginning or end to the barley seed. Also, the barley seed is a continuum. The seed does not come out of thin air. Many causes gather to form the barley seed, but the main cause is the barley seed of the previous moment. In this way we can say that the continuum of the barley seed stretched into the past.

Continuum of mindWhat is my mind? My mind is a collection of thoughts that ripen in quick succession. The main cause of my mind is the previous moment of mind, supported by many other secondary causes and conditions. My mind of this moment (for example, my mind composing this blog post) depends on my previous moment of mind to exist, and the mind I had a few minutes ago when I was in meditation. And those minds came from their respective previous minds. We can go back looking at where our mind came from to when we were children. There is a continuum of our mind.

When we fall asleep, our gross mind dissolves into our subtle mind, and we lose memory of our waking world. Our mother is forgotten in our dream.

Similarly, when we die, our mind dissolves into our subtle mind, and arises again in our next life, but our memory of our mother in the previous life is lost.

I focused on the ideas that my mind is a continuum which stretches back in time and crosses through the life/death boundary, and the fact that my mind dissolves into dreams where I forget my waking world. These facts demonstrate that I can have had previous lives, and that in each life I had a mother whom I have forgotten. Where are these mothers now? They are the living beings around me today.

I focused on this conclusion, and tried to develop a strong recognition that all the people around me have been (and are) my mother.

Meditation

May all living beings recognise the true nature of the living beings around them, and quickly attain liberation and enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will ponder the continuum of my mind.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong wish to control our mind because an uncontrolled mind is the cause of experiencing hell.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then thinking about gaining the conviction that hell really does exist.

Hell is an unpopular concept in the West. Our ‘sophisticated understanding’ of the world has led to hell being viewed as an arcane and superstitious belief.

But we do say things like ‘Oh, it was hell’, or ‘I have been to hell and back’ when we talk about particularly difficult or unpleasant experiences. In this sense, we understand hell very well. Hell is particularly unpleasant experience. If we understand that our experiences come from our mind, then we can see that we have the potential to experience hell in our mind all the time.

The world we experience depends upon our karma – as our karma ripens, we perceive different forms and experiences. Negative karma manifests in very negative experiences, which, in their worst forms, we could call hell.

Sometimes in dreams we experience lands of flames and great fear, where no matter where we try to run or hide, there is no safety. If we never woke up, we would experience hell continuously.

If we have a particularly horrible experience as a waking human – perhaps we have our passport taken from us and we are trafficked to a foreign land where everyone talks a different language, and where we are made to have sex with many people or be beaten – then we experience hell.

But no matter how real these experiences seem, they are deceptive. They do not exist from their own side, but are appearances which cause us suffering because we assent to their reality.

They arise from an uncontrolled mind.

headacheIf we can control our mind, we can control our experience of the world, and transform it from a hell realm into a pure land. This may seem far fetched, but only because we have not yet realised the depth of the relationship between our mind and our world.

I focused on the idea that hell arises from an uncontrolled mind. I identified this as the cause of hell, and focused on that thought for a while.

I then asked myself what I am going to do about it.

If hell arises from an uncontrolled mind, then I need to be able to control my mind as quickly as possible, because while my mind is uncontrolled, it may well throw me into hell before I have the chance to become prepared.

I imagined having a completely controlled mind – where no thoughts arose except the ones which I wanted. It was like a massive pure motionless ocean, where there was no movement. Only the thoughts that I wanted arose, but did not disturb my ocean-like mind in the same way that uncontrolled thoughts would. It was completely calm and clear, settled and still. I focused on this thought, knowing that it will protect me from hell. I remained focused on this thought for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings be able to control their minds, and either deal with hell when it arises, or purify their minds to such an extent that it cannot appear to them at all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remember that all phenomena are mere appearances to mind, and that they come from my mine, which is the nature of emptiness.

The purpose of this meditation is to increase our capacity to meditate deeply on lamrim topics, and then to contemplate what this means in light of the disadvantages of self cherishing.

I began with some breathing meditation, and then moved on to focus on my mind itself, trying to keep everything very still and very stable. I imagined my root guru’s mind, and how completely stable and concentrated it is. I imagined it had the quality of an immovable mountain, completely stable and controlled.

I imagined my mind mixing with his mind, and I felt a complete solidity and stability fill my mind. Following this, I sort of passed through to the other side, and experienced a very light and empty feeling which was, again, stable and solid, but also space-like and endless. I focused on this for a while before moving on.

I then thought about what this means in the light of the disadvantages of self cherishing. The mind of self-cherishing can be overcome by meditation on Lamrim, but only if our experience of Lamrim is profound. To achieve this we need to perfect our concentration, and apply this to Lamrim. With the wish to overcome my own self-cherishing, I returned to my concentration on my mind, and remained on this for the rest of my time.

Dedication

May all living beings gain control over their minds, and through this control, attain the enlightened state of a Buddha.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to keep a focused mind, never far away from the Lamrim minds.

The purpose of this meditation is to recognise the truth of the fact that all living beings are my mothers, and then to contemplate this in the light of death and impermanence.

I began by thinking about the scientific fact of cause and effect. All things are part of a continuum. Conventionally speaking all objects are simply the current configuration of matter which was previously something else. All objects depend on their previous continuum to exist. Things cannot suddenly appear from nowhere. I thought of objects simply being the current appearance of a continuum which stretched back into beginningless time, like train tracks disappearing into the distance.

I thought of my mind. In this respect my mind is just the same as manifest objects. It depends on its previous moment to exist, and has done so since I was a baby. But did my mind suddenly appear from nowhere when I was born? No, babies are conscious in the womb. So when did my mind actually start? The first moment of my mind related to this body occurred the moment my father’s sperm mixed with my mother’s ovum. But this mind MUST have had a previous moment – it cannot simply appear from nowhere. The previous moment was the last moment of my mind related to another body. I am convinced of the logic of this line of though, and with this idea accepted, there is no question that I have had countless rebirths, and therefore countless mothers.

I let the truth of this argument sink into my mind, and recognised that all living beings have been my mother in past lives. I felt like I was surrounded by my mothers, and I recognised them in the people around me every day.

I then thought about what death and impermanence means to this thought. It occurred to me that death destroys everything except my very subtle mind, which goes on from body to body, life to life. It destroys my ability to recognise my mothers by sight, but it cannot stop me recognising that all living beings are my mother.

I stayed with this recognition that all living beings are my mother, and let a warm and affectionate feeling develop towards them all.

Dedication

May all living beings develop the sound conviction that everyone is our mother, and thereby become Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will regard all living beings as my mother, and maintain a warm and friendly feeling towards them all.

Meditation 2/8

The purpose of this meditation is to allow us to receive the blessings of all the Buddhas by relying sincerely upon our Spiritual Guide.

I began the meditation by thinking about one of Luna Kadampa’s posts about blessings in her blog, Kadampa Life. She said:

“Our mind, like a drop of water, can dissolve into the mind of all enlightened beings, which is like a boundless blissful ocean. The drop is then pervaded by the ocean.”

I strongly imagined my Spiritual Guide mixed with my mind, and by doing this, my mind mixed with the mind of all the Buddhas. I opened myself completely to my Spiritual Guide and requested with my whole being ‘please share your realisations with me – may I become a Buddha for the benefit of all’. It felt like I was completely open and mixed with my Guru’s mind. His mind was my mind – his realisations were my realisations. I felt complete.

I remembered the 17th precept of training the mind – train with certainty. I felt completely certain that my practice will be successful, because my Guru is here with me right now, and will never leave me.

I felt complete and fulfilled. I stayed with this blissful feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings find a qualified Spiritual Guide who will lead them along the stages of the path to enlightenment, and may they complete the path to become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will maintain the mind that relies upon my Spiritual Guide, and dedicate my life to achieving his realisations in my mind.

 

The purpose of this meditation is to develop the strong wish to destroy our self-cherishing.

I began the meditation by thinking over a short passage from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso‘s recent book, Modern Buddhism:

“Because self-cherishing has deceived us, we have wasted our countless previous lives. It has driven us to work for our own purpose, but we have gained nothing. This foolish mind has made all our previous lives empty – when we took this human life we brought nothing with us but delusions. In every moment of every day, this self-cherishing mind continues to deceive us.”

I thought about this: self-cherishing dwells in my mind – an ever present bitter flavour. It spoils everything I try to achieve. In all my past lives it has caused me pain. It has caused my relationships to break down. It has caused me to leave my loved ones, or them to leave me. It had ruined my friendships. It has poisoned my mind, and caused me intolerable mental pain.

Self-cherishing has caused me to waste all my previous lives, and it is causing me to waste this one as well.

I slowly came to see self-cherishing as a piece of filthy waste material in my mind, festering and contaminating everything it touched. I need to eliminate this waste from my mind. I developed the strong wish to eliminate it from my mind. I focused on this wish for a while, and I came to a point where I imagined how it would be without self-cherishing in my mind.

I would be free. My mind would be free to flourish. All my thoughts would be pure and clean. It felt like a pure white flower flourishing, growing up and up, unhindered. I let my mind enter the flower and felt the purity and wholesomeness. I focused on this feeling for the rest of the meditation. It was lovely.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise and eliminate their self-cherishing, and attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will apply the opponents to self-cherishing when I see it arising in my mind.

 

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.

Dedication

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.

I began the meditation by reminding myself that I needed to try and establish the truth about how I exist. Normally I don’t even think about how I exist – I just do. ‘I’ am here. ‘I’ am eating, driving, meditating. But what do I find if I look more closely?

I started by trying to see myself clearly. I thought about where I normally am, and it seemed to me that I am sort of ‘above’ but also part of my my body and mind. I thought about if ‘I’ am my body – but ‘I’ am different from my body because I say ‘my body’. If ‘I’ possess my body then obviously ‘I’ am not my body. Likewise, I considered my mind. Am ‘I’ my mind? No, because I say ‘My mind’, so ‘I’ am different from my mind.

So now I had established that ‘me’, ‘I’, and ‘myself’ are not my mind and not my body. Could it be that my ‘I’ was a combination of my body and mind? That is a non-starter because if my ‘I’ is not my body or mind, it will not help to combine them because they can’t just turn into my ‘I’. I’ve just got two things that are not my ‘I’.

So the only other possibility is that my ‘me’ is located away from my body and mind. But I never think of ‘me’ separate from my body or mind.

I looked at my body and mind with my ‘I’ there as a definite presence. Then I saw that the ‘I’ is only there for convenience. The body and mind almost need this idea of ‘I’ to function sensibly. But that does not demonstrate the existence of the ‘I’. I realised that the ‘I’ exists like a chairman exists in a meeting – simply as an imputation on its parts, to make it all effective. But it still does not really exist as a separate thing.

As I considered this, the concept of a separate ‘I’ faded, and I saw a space where it should have been. It was clear and peaceful – unmoving and unchanging. It felt like I did not have any problems, because my problems are ‘mine’, and if there is no ‘me’ then there is no ‘me’ to experience them. I felt very peaceful.

I stayed with this feeling of emptiness and peace for the rest of my meditation.

Saturday today so I had the luxury of extending the meditation for an extra 15 minutes or so. Lovely.

Modern Buddhism

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