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In this series of six posts, I will give some reflections and tips on how to get the most out of our daily meditations by looking at Sadhanas and how to practice them.

Lamrim meditations are normally carried out within a Sadhana such as Prayers for Meditation or Heart Jewel.

If we have a daily practice, then we will be doing a Sadhana (probably the same one) every day. If we do not understand the advantages and the correct way to practice Sadhanas, we may become dissatisfied and potentially abandon our practice altogether.

The most obvious question is ‘Do we have to do Sadhanas? Can we not just do meditations on their own?’

Of course, we can do meditations like this, but they will be far more effective done as part of a Sadhana. Amongst other functions (such as helping us form a strong connection with the Buddhas), the practices within Sadhanas are the best way to prepare our mind for meditation.

In The New Meditation Handbook Geshe-la says the following about the preparing for meditation:

“We all have the potential to gain realizations of each of the twenty-one meditation practices in this book. These potentials are like seeds in the field of our mind, and our meditation practice is like cultivating these seeds. However, our meditation practice will be successful only if we make good preparations beforehand.

“If we want to cultivate external crops, we begin by making careful preparations. First, we remove from the soil anything that might obstruct their growth, such as stones and weeds. Second, we enrich the soil with compost or fertilizer to give it the strength to sustain growth. Third, we provide warm, moist conditions to enable the seeds to germinate and the plants to grow. In the same way, to cultivate our inner crops of Dharma realizations we must also begin by making careful preparations. First we must purify our mind to eliminate the negative karma we have accumulated in the past, because, if we do not purify this karma, it will obstruct the growth of Dharma realizations. Second, we need to give our mind the strength to support the growth of Dharma realizations by accumulating merit.   Third, we need to activate and sustain the growth of Dharma realizations by receiving the blessings of the holy beings.

“It is very important to receive blessings. For example, if we are growing outer crops, even if we remove the weeds and fertilize the soil, we shall not be able to grow anything if we do not provide warmth and moisture. These germinate the seeds, sustain the growth of plants and finally ripen the crop. In the same way, even if we purify our mind and accumulate merit, we shall find it difficult to meet with success in our meditations if we do not receive the blessings of the holy beings. Receiving blessings transforms our mind by activating our virtuous potentials, sustaining the growth of our Dharma realizations, and bringing our Dharma practice to completion.”

To increase the power and effectiveness of our meditations, several things should be done.  Specifically, we need to do the following:

  1. Develop a virtuous motivation
  2. Accumulate merit
  3. Purify negativities
  4. Receive blessings
  5. Dedicate our merit from the meditation

The Sadhana will lead us through these preparations in the most effective manner possible. It will also perform other functions depending on which Sadhana we are following.

So in summary, we need to do Sadhanas because they make our meditation practice highly effective, and perform other virtuous spiritual functions, such as helping us form a strong connection with the Buddhas.

Coming next: How Should we View Sadhanas?

Modern Buddhism

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