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The purpose of this meditation will be to view the whole Lamrim in the light of my precious human life.

I began the meditation by remembering what Geshe Kelsang says about Kadam Lamrim in his recent book, Modern Buddhism:

“Kadam Lamrim is the supreme medicine that can permanently cure all the sufferings of sickness, ageing, death and rebirth.”

I thought about how very precious the Lamrim is, and how I can use it to solve all my problems and make my life meaningful. It is the only way to cure my sufferings.

I thought about the three scopes of Lamrim. By practising the initial scope I will be able to protect myself from lower rebirth. By practising the middling scope I will be able to liberate myself from suffering completely, and by practising the great scope I will gain the ability to help all living beings without exception. How wonderful!

Then I considered: How does my human life relate to Lamrim? How does it inform Lamrim?

Without my human life I would not be able to follow the path of Lamrim. If I did not have a human life, Lamrim would be meaningless or inaccessible to me. It is only because of my human life that I can listen to, contemplate and meditate on Lamrim.

I felt a very deep appreciation for my human life and for the very special Lamrim instructions, and a deep joy that I have these special conditions in order to make my life meaningful. I felt an overwhelming peace and joy arise in my mind, and I stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all human beings appreciate the preciousness of their lives. May all living beings come to experience perfect conditions for practising Dharma, and may they all attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will keep focused on the very precious opportunity I have to practise the Lamrim instructions, strive to keep my vows and commitments purely, and keep Bodhichitta as my motivation for all my actions.

(Meditation 1/1)

The purpose of this meditation is to develop strong reliance upon our Spiritual Guide.

In his recent book Modern Buddhism, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says:

“We need to rely upon our Spiritual Guide until we attain enlightenment. The reason for this is very simple. The ultimlate goal of human life is to attain enlightenment and this depends upon continually receiving the special blessings of Buddha through our Spiritual Guide.”

Buddha continues to guide living beings along the stages of the path to enlightenment through his emanations, who give teachings and show the perfect example of how to put the teachings into practice.

My Spiritual Guide is an emanation of Buddha because he is doing this for me, so I must rely upon him to guide me and give me his special blessings.

I wished with all my heart that I shall receive Buddha’s blessings by relying sincerely upon my Spiritual Guide. I repeated: ‘May I receive your blessings and become a Buddha for the benefit of all’.

I felt like I was stepping into a golden dome of blessings, where my Spiritual Guide was sending down continuous blessings. I felt like I was joining thousands of others already there – my spiritual brothers and sisters. We were all together, receiving the blessings and inspiration of all the Buddhas to achieve life’s ultimate goal. I felt calm and peaceful, but also energised and confident. I stayed with this recognition and feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings rely upon a qualified Spiritual Guide, and attain life’s greatest goal for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will rely upon my Spiritual Guide’s teachings by training my mind. On the 5th of November, Sharon made this comment on my post regarding tranquil abiding:

“A while back, I started to train my mind to keep a watch on itself, constantly asking ‘is this activity worthwhile? does it fit with my ultimate goals? if not, let’s abandon it!’.
After some time, this ‘mind watching’ became second nature to me and now seems to operate on ‘autopilot’, both during meditation and the meditation break. As well as helping me to train in developing single pointed concentration on bodhichitta, another benefit is that all meaningless activities have fallen to the wayside. The mind of bodchitta is now the motivation for everything I do.”

How inspiring! I will do the same.

The purpose of this meditation is to increase our stability of mind.

I began the meditation by deciding to meditate on compassion. I called to mind how precious all living beings are, and how they suffer constantly.

In his recent book Modern Buddhism, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso quotes Buddha Shakyamuni as follows:

In this impure life of samsara,
No-one experiences pure happiness.

I thought about my children and how they will suffer throughout their lives. I imagined them suffering, and how I naturally wish that they be free from suffering. It is my natural role to care for them and protect them. I want to protect them from suffering.

I let my mind become mixed with the wish for them to be free from their suffering, and stayed with it for the rest of the meditation. When the wish faded, or my mind wandered, I brought it back to the contemplation and the meditation.

I did this throughout the meditation, trying to stay in the object for longer and longer each time.

Dedication

May all living beings develop traquil abiding, and quickly realise all the virtuous objects of meditation, and become complete Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

If I am honest, my lack of stability of mind is my biggest problem now. I can generate objects and mix my mind with them, but I need my concentration to be better. I will constantly wish for better concentration.

The purpose of this meditation is to take on others’ suffering in meditation.

In Geshe Kelsang Gyatso‘s recent book, Modern Buddhism, my kind teacher gives instructions on how to practice the taking in conjunction with the six perfections. He also makes it clear that the act of taking on others’ suffering in meditation is a method for destroying our own ignorance of self-grasping and self-cherishing.

I began the meditation by recalling my strong feeling of finding the suffering of others unbearable. I let my mind rest on this feeling for a while, and then I moved on. I decided that I needed to do something about all this suffering. I imagined a vast plain in front of me, filled with all the living beings trapped in samsara. I saw them all standing there, millions and millions of them.

I made the firm decision to take all their suffering from them. Thinking this was the cause of their suffering rising out of each and every one of them in the aspect of black smoke. I saw it leaving a few beings first, then more and more smoke rising into the air above them.

As the smoke left them, they became free from their suffering. They became free from ageing. No matter how old they were, they became young again, with youthful bodies in the prime of life. They became free from sickness. No matter how ill they were, their sickness left them and they became healthy. Their future sufferings also left their bodies. They were free from all their suffering, and would never experience suffering again. They were filled with joy, and I felt that joy in my heart. I stayed with that joy for a few minutes.

Then I focused on the black smoke. I caused it to roll across the plain towards me, gathering it into a funneling cloud. I made the smoke get more and more concentrated as it gathered in the space just in front of my chest. I imagined it folding in on itself, getting smaller and smaller until it was the size of a pea. I then brought it into my heart and it dissolved into my self-grasping ignorance and my self-cherishing. I felt my self grasping melt away. I realised that without self grasping there was no I to apprehend. I felt that all I was was mere name. Name cannot suffer. I felt completely free from suffering. I felt completely free and empty, profoundly joyous and open.

I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings practice taking on the sufferings of others, and through this become fully enlightened beings.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will mount taking on the breath, and practice it in conjunction with the six perfections.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop an urgent wish that all living beings be freed from their suffering quickly.

I began the meditation by considering what Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says in his recent book, Modern Buddhism:

“No-one wants to suffer, yet out of ignorance living beings create suffering by performing non-virtuous actions.”

I thought about how kind all other living beings have been to me, and how much I care for them. Then I thought about their actions, and how, because they simply do not understand the karmic connections between their actions and their experiences, they engage in acts of lying, killing and covetousness which only cause them immense suffering in the future. I though about how tragic it was.

I thought about how living beings are like children wandering into danger’s way without realising. They are not stupid: they just don’t recognise the danger they are putting themselves in. An image came to mind of seeing children playing on a railway track. I felt horror in the knowledge that as they happily played, a train was coming towards them at great speed, and would kill them all. I felt a deep horror and concern for them. I felt a deep wish for them to leave the place of danger and find a place of safety.

I focused on this very strong wish for them to come away from the danger and find safety. I stayed with this wish for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings develop Great Compassion for all living beings, and through this mother, be born as Buddhas.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will maintain the sincere wish that all living beings be freed from their suffering, and make prayers for them when I see or think of their suffering.

The purpose of this meditation is to become very familiar with the advantages of thinking others are important, and their happiness and freedom are important – the most important things in the world.

I began by recalling a passage in Geshe Kelsang Gyatso‘s book, Modern Buddhism:

The precious mind that cherishes all living beings protects both myself and others from suffering, brings pure and everlasting happiness, and fulfils the wishes of both myself and others. Therefore I must always cherish other living beings without exception.

I thought about this: by cherishing others I will protect both myself and others from suffering. At first I thought about having a suit of armour made of cherishing others, but after a while I realised that this is not quite the protection we are talking about. A suit of armour will protect use by separating us from the cause of harm – but it also separates us from others. We are protected, but we are isolated.

It occurred to me that a better analogue would be inoculation from suffering. By cherishing others we can effortlessly mix with the things that previously would have caused us harm in the knowledge that we are protected.

I thought of the famous quote by Princess Diana when she gave a speech about people with HIV/AIDS. At that time people with HIV/AIDS were shunned as highly infectious because the way in which it spread was not well understood among the general population. She said ‘HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hand and give them a hug: heaven knows they need it’. This was a groundbreaking statement to make at a time when, if you knew a person had HIV/AIDS, you would probably leave the room and consider burning your clothes just in case…

I felt that with cherishing others constantly a part of my mind, I would be inoculated from all fear and suffering: I would be able to hug everyone and not be afraid of being hurt. Far from separating me from people, cherishing others will only allow me to become closer and closer to everyone.

I focused on this feeling of protection and being able to fearlessly become close to everyone for the rest of the meditation. It was a beautiful calm and free feeling, confident and loving.

Dedication

May all living beings realise that cherishing others is the actual way to fulfil their deepest wishes, and in so doing attain Great Enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will need no further encouragement to cherish others all day – either directly by my actions, or indirectly through good wishes directed towards others. What a meaningful way to spend the day. Join me.

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 develop affectionate love for all living beings, remembering that they have all been our kind mother and they have all been very kind to us in the past.

I began the meditation by thinking about one particular statement in Geshe Kelsang Gyatso‘s recent book, Modern Buddhism:

When we were conceived, had out mother not wanted to keep us in her womb she could have had an abortion. If she had done so we would not now have this human life. Through her kindness she allowed us to stay in her womb and so we now enjoy a human life and experience all its advantages.

I thought about how true this is. My mother could have had an abortion. I had no absolute right to stay in her womb and feed off her body. She could just as easily evicted me and carried on with her life, her career, her interests. But she gave up all those hopes and dreams and instead became a mother and stayed at home looking after me.

I thought about how everything I now have is as a direct result of her decision to keep this complete stranger in her own body. That one decision has allowed me to come into this world and meet my Spiritual Guide – to come into contact with his teachings and to try to learn them myself.

I kept thinking about this one decision which gave me everything, and I felt a very deep appreciation for the kindness of my mother. As I contemplated my affectionate love for her, it felt as though my heart was with her. I concentrated on this feeling that my heart was with her, and I felt a very deep tranquil peace. My heart was not here in me, it was with her, and in its place was a deep tranquil peace. It felt beautiful and I stayed with the feeling and meaning for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings develop universal affectionate love and quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will always remember my appreciation for the kindness of my mothers in keeping me in their womb, giving me a precious human life.

The purpose of this meditation is to encourage us to develop the wish to liberate ourselves from the sufferings of future lives.

I began the meditation by recalling what Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says in his recent book, Modern Buddhism.  He recounts the words of the Buddha: ‘You should know sufferings’. When Buddha said this, he was referring to the sufferings of future lives. Knowing the sufferings of future lives, we will generate a strong wish to liberate ourself from them. This practical advice is important for everyone, because if we have this strong wish, we will use our human life for the happiness and freedom of future lives.

I contemplated the sufferings of beings in general in the six realms of samsara. Animals suffer ignorance and incredible abuse, used as they are for food, labour and entertainment. I thought of a deer with its leg trapped in a rock. Its fellow deer would just look on uncomprehendingly. The deer will slowly starve to death in the midst of food – how tragic. Hungry ghosts suffer thirst and hunger for aeons, where the only water is tears. The bodies of hell beings in the hot hells become inseparable from fire so that the only way others can distinguish them from  fire is by their agonised screams. Those reborn as gods suffer mental pain despite their good conditions. And finally humans experience many sufferings including birth, sickness, ageing and death.

I thought through all these sufferings – especially the sufferings of animals, and gradually developed a wish to rise above the sufferings of samsara. I wanted to become separate from this never ending cycle of suffering.

I recognised that this was the wish to attain liberation from samsara, and I kept this feeing of wishing to be free for the rest of the meditation. I slowly gathered more and more momentum in the wish until it seemed that I wanted to leave samsara with every fibre of my being.  I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings develop renunciation, the wish to liberate themselves from the sufferings of future lives, and through this wish go on to attain enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to maintain the continuum of renunciation, and recognise in all my experiences the inherent suffering within them.

The purpose of this mediation is to become familiar with the law of karma so that we can avoid future suffering and establish the basic foundation for the path to liberation and enlightenment.

I began the meditation by thinking about what Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says about karma in his recent book, Modern Buddhism. He says ‘From non-virtuous actions comes suffering and from virtuous actions comes happiness: if we believe this, we believe in karma’.

I thought about this deceptively simple statement. Within it is the key to our release from suffering, the solution to all our problems.

I thought about what it would be like to have a complete all pervading conviction that the law of karma was true. What would it be like to really believe, with every cell in my body, that virtuous actions cause happiness and non virtuous actions create suffering?

I would only perform virtuous actions! And I would be joyous while performing them, because I would know that it is the direct cause of happiness in the future. I would be delighted all the time! No matter what my conditions, I would be really happy.

Like a couple who buy an dirty old dilapidated house and spend all their evenings and weekends (and all their money) working hard in bad conditions doing it up. The work is hard but they are happy to put in the effort because they know they will enjoy the fruits of their labour in the future.

I thought about how wonderful life would be if I truly and completely believed in karma. I mixed my mind with that view, and slowly my mind was absolutely filled with joy. I knew that every time I performed an action I would ensure it was virtuous, and I would be joyful in doing it. I knew that every time I performed an act of purification, I would be joyful in doing it. I would never create negative actions, so I would never be unhappy.

I settled into this mind and experienced a peaceful, contented and joyful mind for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise the consequences of their actions, and through this understanding attain complete inner peace through following the path to liberation and enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will maintain the continuum of my mind in meditation: recognise the need to only perform virtuous actions and rejoice in them.

 

Modern Buddhism

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