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The purpose of this meditation is to examine the disadvantages of self-cherishing, and to contemplate our conclusions in light of the emptiness of phenomena.

I began by developing a strong wish to meditate well, and then moved on to breathing meditation. I imagined that around me were all the living beings of the six realms in human form, and in front of me were the countless enlightened beings. They were glowing in golden light, and smiling at us all with great kindness. I imagined we were all in Buddha’s pure land, and completely at peace.

I dissolved the world and my body into light, and then brought my attention into my heart where I mixed my mind with my guru’s mind, and after a while of enjoying a very peaceful feeling, moved on to the main meditation.

pawnI started by thinking about how, in this context, self-cherishing is essentially our belief that our needs and our wishes are more important than anyone else’s. In fact, self-cherishing distorts our surroundings so much that it shows us a world and a context where it is easy to believe that our needs and wishes are the ONLY ones that matter.

When I am under the sway of self-cherishing, I find myself viewing others as simply means to my own selfish ends. I don’t see them as people at all. I just see them as things to use to get me some pleasure or possessions. How shallow! How despicable! Self-cherishing beguiles me with convincing arguments, and blinds me to the consequences that would ensue if I let it run free.

I thought about what it would be like to have no self-cherishing – to see that my ‘self’ was empty of inherent existence and did not exist as it normally appeared. If I could realise this, I would see that there is no need to cherish myself at the cost of others, because there is no self to cherish! What would I do instead of cherishing my self? The only things around to cherish would be other living beings. The same living beings that I previously used as pawns in my self-cherishing games – only now instead of seeing them as means to a selfish end, I can see them as living beings whom I can help. It would be clear that my duty and obligation would be to offer them help and happiness.

I thought about how pure my mind could be, if it were not for the foul pollution of self-cherishing.

I dwelt on this, and developed the sincere wish to be free from self-cherishing and all its faults. I focused on this for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings see the faults of self-cherishing, and overcome its distorted presentation to attain perfect enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to see others as beings to whom I should offer help and happiness, and abandon my dark self-cherishing, which would lead me along paths of suffering and desolation.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong wish to overcome the delusion of self-grasping and then to contemplate what this means in light of the practice of taking.

I began the meditation by mixing my mind with my Guru’s mind and imagining that we are completely mixed. After a while of enjoying this feeling, moved on to the next stage.

I started by thinking about self-cherishing, which is a mistaken attitude with believes that I myself is the most important person in the world – supremely important. It distorts my world into a weird place, where everything seems to revolve around me, and my wishes, beliefs and attitudes are the most important and correct of all.

Self-cherishing completely interferes with my aim to attain enlightenment.

I have a strong wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all, and on the basis of this wish I have entered the spiritual path. I want to work my way through all the stages of the Bodhisattva training. Self-cherishing stops me doing this. It is like a door closed across the path I want to take.

I focused on the idea of self-cherishing being the principal barrier to every single progression along the path to enlightenment, and I generated a strong wish to overcome this delusion so that I can fulfil my wish to complete the Bodhisattva training. I rested my mind on this recognition and wish for a while…

After that had sunk in, I thought about what this means in light of the practice of taking on the sufferings of others.

It seemed very clear to me that without self-cherishing, there would be no problem with taking on the sufferings of others. It is my self-cherishing that makes me believe I am separate from others and makes me reluctant to have anything to do with the sufferings of others. By overcoming this delusion, I will be able to take the sufferings of others joyfully, knowing that it is actually the path I want to tread! With this joyful recognition, I returned to the wish to cleanse my mind of self-cherishing, and focused on it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

Just as all the previous Buddhas generated the mind of enlightenment, and accomplished all the stages of the Bodhisattva training, may all living beings overcome the delusion of self-cherishing, and accomplish all the stages of the Bodhisattva training.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remember my wish to complete the stages of the path to enlightenment, and recognise that from this motivation, I want to complete the stages of the training. I will try to remember that self-cherishing distorts my world and interferes with this wish and this progress, so I will try to eliminate self-cherishing in my mind throughout the day.

The purpose of this meditation is to reflect on the entire Lamrim cycle of meditations in light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing.

I began with breathing meditation until my mind was calm, and then moved on to think about what the Lamrim is. The Lamrim is a cycle of meditations which, together, comprises all of Buddha’s instructions for attaining enlightenment.

Self-cherishing is a mind that works only for my own childish ends, whereas Buddhas work for the benefit of all living beings – just look at the difference between us! I recognised that I can use the Lamrim to remove my self-cherishing and attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

I imagined a wide disc standing upright, with the Lamrim meditations represented around its edge in an unbroken circle. I imagined the Lamrim being like a portal, and stepping through it I felt like I had purified and removed all my self cherishing. I instantly felt a wonderful feeling of being pure and clean – free from self-cherishing and capable of cherishing others completely. I focused on the feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings experience the bliss of abandoning self-cherishing, and quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all, and may my merit from all my Dharma activities ripen upon others until they attain enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remember how the Lamrim can destroy my self-cherishing completely, and work to bring it into my life completely.

 

The purpose of this meditation is to generate a firm feeling of going for refuge to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and then to meditate on this feeling in light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing.

I began with breathing meditation, then allowing my mind to settle in my heart. I experienced a deep relaxing feeling and a very pleasant lightness of mind, which I focused on for a while.

I then did three rounds of meditation on going for refuge, as described in Joyful Path of Good Fortune by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

I began by remembering the sufferings of the lower realms by recalling my meditation from yesterday.

After a while I moved on and imagined that the time of my death had actually come, and I had taken rebirth as a pig. I looked about me and saw that I lived in a pig sty with my pig family. My face was a pig’s face, and my feet were pig’s feet. I tried to imagine that I really was a pig. After a while we were herded into a truck and taken to an abattoir. Me and my pig family started squealing and making terrified sounds as they realised they were to be killed. One by one we were forced through a door. When my turn came I was hoisted into the air by a cord around one of my back legs and my throat was slit by a bored and compassionless man. I felt intense pain and my blood flowed over my face as I slowly lost consciousness. Immediately my body was dismembered and cut into pieces. Some were thrown away, some were fed to dogs, and some were ground up for sausages. Other parts were packed in cellophane and sent to supermarkets, where they were bought and taken home to be fried and eaten by humans.

In the last round of meditation I thought about how I can prevent this from happening. I prevent only prevent this being my fate by relying on the Three Jewels. I felt a strong wish to go for refuge to the protection of the Three Jewels, which arose spontaneously. I stayed with this feeling for a long while.

After some time, I decided to see what this means in light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing.

Self-cherishing is the cause of all my problems and the sufferings I will experience in lower realms. By contrast, taking refuge in the Three Jewels is the ultimate opponent to self-cherishing, because all the realisations of the stages of the path depend upon strong refuge in the Three Jewels. I imagined my refuge like a nuclear explosion lighting up the night of self-cherishing, blowing the darkness away and filling the world with pure light. I felt like I was at the centre of the light at the feet of the Three Jewels. I focused on that feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings find true refuge from the sufferings of samsara, and quickly attain all the stages of the path until they enter the path of no more learning, for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remember the feeling of going for refuge to the Three Jewels and how it protects me from lower rebirth, and how it dispels the darkness of my mind.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the sincere wish to abandon self-cherishing, and then to meditate on this wish in light of the fact that all living beings are our mothers.

I began with some breathing meditation and tried to keep my mind on my breath. After a while of wrestling, I eventually had a relatively peaceful and settled mind.

I then began contemplating the kindness of all living beings. I generated a feeling of gratefulness towards all living beings, because they act as the objects for my compassion, patience and rejoicing.

I then thought about how I want to share my cherishing of myself with my cherishing of others. I then thought about what good this self-cherishing actually is. When I think of myself, I perceive a very strong appearance of ‘self’, and on the basis of this appearance I generate self-cherishing. I automatically regard this self as supremely important and this creates selfish intentions. Driven by these intentions I compete with others for happiness. I am constantly plotting against others so that my actions create the best conditions possible for me at the expense of others.

Self-cherishing makes me perceive a complete difference between myself and others, and this perception creates all my problems. It also hurts others – the very people I love so much.

I thought of how horrible this self-cherishing is, because it makes selfish intentions dominate my thinking. I want to be rid of these selfish intentions. I want to be rid of self-cherishing. It is worthless and harmful. It stops me being happy and it causes me to harm others.

I focused on this wish to abandon my self cherishing, and felt a strong desire to be rid of this awful mind. I tried to keep it  focused and alive in my attention.

I then thought about what this means in light of the fact that all living beings are my mother. I thought about how all the other people that I end up harming are really my mother. How ungrateful! My kind mothers help me and cherish me in life after life, and  I reward them by keeping them at arm’s length while I help myself to the best. This horrible mind must be brought to an end.

With this thought in mind I focused my attention on the wish to abandon self-cherishing.

Dedication

May all living beings abandon self-cherishing and with the freedom this brings, quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to maintain my wish to be rid of self-cherishing because it causes so much harm to myself and others.

The purpose of this meditation is to identify the disadvantages of self-cherishing and on the basis of these disadvantages, resolve to abandon it. Following this, we meditate on this wish in the light of equanimity.

Self-cherishing is the thought that holds our self and our happiness to be the most important thing in the world, second to nothing.

I began the meditation by thinking about what self-cherishing causes. My actions motivated by self-cherishing cause me suffering in the short and the long term. In the short term it causes me to act selfishly and drive a wedge between myself and others. In the long term I create negative potentialities which will ripen into unpleasant experiences in the future.

Although I made the determination in my previous meditation to equalise my cherishing of self with my cherishing of others, this is not good enough. With self-cherishing in my mind I will not be able to wholeheartedly cherish others. No matter what virtuous actions I perform, there will always be a part of my mind thinking ‘what’s in it for me?’. Even if it is only a tiny part of my mind, it will contaminate my actions with non-virtue.

I imagined my self-cherishing dwindling and slowly vanishing, leaving me pure and able to cherish others completely. It was a lovely feeling of being able to care for others without any reluctance or hesitation, without any thought for myself. I felt free and pure, and I tried to keep the feeling going in my mind for as long as I could.

After a while I thought about what this means in the light of equanimity. Equanimity is the warm and friendly feeling we should generate towards all living beings in light of their normal appearances being simply mistaken projections of our conceptual mind. I seemed to me that just as others are simply mistaken appearances, so to is my ‘self’, and that if I can recognise that my self does not exist in the way it appears (in fact it lacks any inherent existence at all) then I can easily stop cherishing it, because it does not make sense to cherish something that does not exist. The logic of this argument was convincing and I felt a ‘dropping away’ of my impression of ‘self’. I felt a corresponding dropping away of my self-cherishing and brought my mind back to the free and pure feeling of being able to act towards others without the contamination of self-cherishing in my mind. I meditated on this feeling for the rest of the session.

Dedication

May all living beings abandon self-cherishing completely, and in so doing find their way to the end of the path to enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will retain my wish to abandon self-cherishing in the meditation break, and remember the harm it causes, and the emptiness of my self.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong wish to abandon self-cherishing, and then to meditate on this wish in the light of renunciation, the wish to abandon samsara completely.

I began the meditation by deciding to tackle this meditation from the point of view of the emptiness of my ‘I’. I thought about how my I does not exist in the way that it normally appears. I normally perceive a very clear appearance of my I whenever I think thoughts such as ‘I am tired’, ‘I am hungry’ or ‘I am late’. It goes without saying that there is a very solid I which is the subject in these thoughts.

It felt like I had a very demanding friend who was constantly pestering me to feed him, keep him warm and so on. Then I thought more deeply and recognised that there is no inherently existing I at all. The I I normally perceive is empty of inherent existence, and the cherishing that I devote to it is completely pointless and mistaken.

I felt like I was spending huge amounts of energy on a completely pointless exercise – what a waste of time!

I determined to stop pampering and cosseting this fabricated I because it is completely pointless. I felt like something that I had been holding very dearly had simply vanished, and I was left just looking at my empty hands, wondering what to do next. There was no point in caring so much for something that was not there. I stayed with this feeling for a while.

I then thought about what this means in the light of renunciation – the wish to be completely free from all the sufferings of samsara.

The realisation of emptiness motivated by renunciation is one of the higher trainings which lead to liberation. If I abandon self-cherishing I will have the stability of mind to achieve the perfect realisation of emptiness, and in conjunction with renunciation I will attain permanent liberation from samsara. These attainments all fitted together as part of the ultimate path to enlightenment, and I returned to the wish to simply abandon self-cherishing as a fundamental component of the overall master plan.

Dedication

May all living beings come to realise the ultimate nature of their ‘I’, and naturally abandon self-cherishing as a pointless pursuit, and through this action become liberated and enlightened for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remember the emptiness of my I and reduce my self-cherishing minds.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop the wish to abandon self-cherishing, and then to think about this wish in the light of actions and their effects.

I began the meditation by thinking about what self-cherishing is. Self-cherishing is a complex attitude which basically views ourself to be more important than anything (or anyone) else. This view causes me so much trouble! By believing I am more important than everyone else I naturally put myself first. I want the praise, pleasure, resources and respect, and a good reputation. I naturally think of myself before anyone else. Where does this get me?

In the short term it might seem to work, securing some meagre advantage and pleasure, but what are the longer term results. My selfish actions cause me relationships with others to be hollow – I see others as competitors or people to use to get what I want. I will squander friendships and ruin any chance of happiness I might have by wanting something better.

The mind of self-cherishing causes me and others so much pain in the immediate wake of my actions. But it also causes me to experience suffering in the future in the form of painful experiences. Self-cherishing hurts me twice.

I got the impression of a horrible stain which spreads out through time, soiling me now and again in the future. I felt a revulsion towards this mind which causes so much harm and disruption. I dwelt on this disgust for a while and then developed a wish to be free from it. It felt like I had dropped a huge disgusting weight and that I was able to fly upwards into a pure clean sky. I connected the pure clean sky with the abandonment of the disgusting mind of self-cherishing, and focused on the feeling for a while.

I then thought about what this feeling means in the light of actions and their effects. Abandoning self-cherishing is an action, and its effects are for me to create positive actions which will benefit myself and others immediately, and that will cause me to have good conditions in the future in which I can continue to benefit others. It seemed so advantageous to abandon self-cherishing bearing this in mind. I returned to the feeling of abandonment of self-cherishing, and floated in the lovely clean sky for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings see the faults of self-cherishing clearly, and by abandoning it completely become enlightened for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to recognise self-cherishing as it arises, recognise it’s bad qualities, and develop the determination to abandon it.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop the strong wish to abandon our self-cherishing by contemplating its disadvantages, and then considering this wish in the light of the dangers of lower rebirth.

All the suffering in this world arises from our self-cherishing wish for happiness for ourself. I thought about all the suffering caused by my selfish actions – how much harm and upset I cause others, and how much misery I am causing for myself. I let the weight of this suffering rest on my mind for a while.

I thought about a recent post by Luna Kadampa on her blog, Kadampa Life. This wish for myself to be happy is based on my identification of objects being either ‘mine’ or ‘not mine’. I categorise the world in these terms, and I care about those things that are ‘me’ or ‘mine’, and don’t care about things that are ‘not-me’ and ‘not-mine’. This is a ridiculous way to look at the world.

I thought that if I could overcome the appearance of objects as ‘mine’ and ‘not-mine’ I would be able to overcome my self cherishing. I would be free from the suffering caused by this distorted view of the world. I would feel the chains of bondage fall away from me, and become free from this demon of self-cherishing.

I thought about how wonderful it would be if I could abandon self-cherishing and be free from the sufferings it causes. I repeated to myself ‘I want to be free from self-cherishing’ and slowly I felt a feeling of being released and becoming free. I stayed with that feeling for a while.

I then thought about what this means in the light of the sufferings of the lower realms. Self-cherishing is the direct cause of all the sufferings of the lower realms, so if I abandon self-cherishing, I will stop creating the causes for suffering in the lower realms. The feeling of being released grew in intensity with this recognition, and I tried to keep the feeling alive in my mind. Whenever it faded, I renewed it by thinking through the contemplation, and then stayed on the feeling again for as long as I could.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise self-cherishing, apply the opponents to overcome it temporarily, and then finally abandon it completely, thereby becoming Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to stop thinking about ‘mine’ and ‘not-mine’, recognising them as constructs of my self-cherishing to be abandoned.

 

The purpose of this meditation is to exchange the object of our cherishing from ourselves to others, and then to contemplate this in the light of death and impermanence.

I began the meditation by thinking about how self-cherishing is like an abusive partner which I keep going back to. I have relied on this partner to keep me safe and happy all my life, but where has this got me? I have not found the peace and lasting happiness I long for. In fact self-cherishing has brought me nothing but unhappiness. I know from personal experience that true happiness can be found only when I am cherishing others.

I decided that I will not go back to my ‘abusive partner’ – my self-cherishing, ever again. From now on I will only cherish others. I made this determination and repeated these words in my mind – I will abandon self-cherishing and only cherish others. I felt happy and free – a lovely feeling of happiness which was not centred on me but away from me. I stayed with this feeling for a while.

I then wondered what this meant in the light of death and impermanence. In this case it seemed very clear that once death comes my opportunity understand the wisdom of cherishing others will be lost. Although I may have others who I could cherish in my next life, will I understand how this is a spiritual path? I may not even have the opportunity (or desire) to cherish others. It is clear that I definitely need to cherish others 100% of the time, and I need to cherish myself 0% of the time. I felt my previous feeling of freedom and happiness take on a more intense dimension, and I stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings exchange self with others, and reach the state of enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

Simply to put my determination into practice, and turn my back on my ‘bad romance’ with self-cherishing.

Meditation 2/13

Modern Buddhism

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