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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 generate the strong wish to become able to take away the sufferings of others, and to give pure happiness, and to experience permanent bliss, in other words, to become an enlightened being. Then we consider what this means in light of wishing love.

I began by doing breathing meditation, relaxing my body and my heart, and then mixing my mind with my Spiritual Guide’s mind. After a while of floating in blissful emptiness, I moved on to the main meditation.

I began by thinking about the main object of the meditation: Bodhichitta, the wish to become a Buddha for the benefit of all. I thought about the benefits of Bodhichitta, and focused on the way in which I will be able to fulfil my wishes to help others perfectly. I imagined what it would be like to be able to help others with perfectly skilful means. I would be able to reach all living beings instantly and understand their needs mistakenly  I thought about these points and felt a wish to become a Buddha arise in my heart.

Then I thought about how I can become a Buddha. I am one end of a mental continuum – the other end is a Buddha. It felt like I was looking down a tube of light, with myself at one end and a Buddha at the other. I am connected to my ultimate state, and I need to propel myself along this continuum as quickly as possible so that I can reach Buddhahood as soon as possible. My Spiritual Guide has told me all the things I need to do in order to move along the continuum, and all I need to do is exactly as he says. That way I will make the quickest progress.

I imagined creating the causes to become a Buddha as quickly as possible, and attaining that exalted state quickly for the benefit of others. I really wished that this will happen, and resolved to move along the path.  I focused on this wish to move towards Buddhahood for the rest of the meditation.

After a while I thought about what this means in terms of wishing love. Bodhichitta is the best way of fulfilling my wishing love and also my compassion. Once again, I saw how all the Lamrim objects compliment each other and present the Dharma is a beautiful and logical progression. With this in mind I returned to my sincere and humble wish to become a Buddha for the benefit of all.

Dedication

Through the virtues I have collected through practising the stages of the path, may I and all living beings become enlightened beings.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to maintain the beautiful experience of mixing my mind with my Guru’s mind, and wishing to become a Buddha for the benefit of all.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate to overwhelming wish to attain Buddhahood so that we can fulfil our heart’s desire to free all living beings from their suffering, and then to meditate on this wish in light of equalising self and others.

I began with focusing on the breath and counting breaths up to 18. I imagined my attention being pinned underneath the numbers as they lowered before me, and then slowly receding into the distance until instead of numbers I could just see a tiny spot of light dropping into the centre of my ‘visual field’. Then this spot of light faded into emptiness and I was left with a good strong focus on spacelike emptiness, with no distractions.

After a while of enjoying this focused feeling, I moved on to my main meditation: the wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

I reviewed the Great Scope meditations. I have equanimity towards all other living beings, and great affection for them bearing in mind how kind they have been in the past and how kind they continue to be. I thought about how self-cherishing is like a wound in my mind, and how if I stop scratching it, it will heal naturally, and my mental continuum will become healthy. I can do this by cherishing others completely.

When I cherish others, I want them to be happy – their freedom and happiness are all-important to me. But what do I find when I look at their situation? They are suffering constantly, and they cannot find true happiness no matter how they try. I have imagined the ability to take away their suffering and felt how wonderful that is. I have imagined the ability to give pure happiness, and I have experienced how wonderful that is in meditation. Now I want to be able to actually do these things.

How do I do this? By relying upon my Spiritual Guide completely, and by practising the Six Perfections of Giving, Moral Discipline, Patience, Effort, Mental Stabilisation and Wisdom. An image came to mind of a climbing wall. The handholds had six different colours, one for each of the Six Perfections. The handholds were those plastic ones that stick out of artificial climbing walls. The handholds went up the sheer face of the wall, but they were all within easy reach of each other, and the colours repeated themselves all the way up. This indicated to me that I need all the Perfections to reach the top – there is no route possible to the top without using all the colours. I imagined climbing up to enlightenment using these handholds. I also had a safety rope around me, and at the top of the wall was my kind Spiritual Guide, pulling on the rope, making the climb easier for me and stopping me falling back down.

This image seemed perfect and I used it to review the various aspects of Bodhichitta until I had a lovely feeling of progress, wholesomeness and purpose. I focused on this feeling and I developed a very special feeling of Bodhichitta – the wish to become a Buddha for the benefit of all.

After a while I moved on to thinking about what this means in light of equalising self and others.

My dearest wish is to become a Buddha, but the reason I want to achieve this state is that I will be able to help all living beings attain the same state. It is the ultimate conclusion of the Great Scope journey and incorporates equalising self and others as an essential step. With this in mind, I returned to my feeling of climbing the wall to enlightenment using the handholds of the six perfections, with my Guru helping me and protecting me all the way. What a feeling!

Dedication

May all living beings see the truth of samsara, and develop the supreme wish to become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will build the six perfections into everything I do today. For example, by doing this blog I am giving love and dharma to the world, I am practising moral discipline because this blog is a virtuous activity, I am practising patience because I am not impatient for results or praise, I am practising joyful effort in writing this blog, I am practising concentration by focusing on my meditation and how to express how it felt, and I am practising wisdom because as I write this, I remember that, at the end of the day, I myself and this blog and all other appearances completely lack inherent existence.

I will try to carry out all my other activities today with the six perfections in mind.

The purpose of this meditation is to contemplate the benefits of relying upon a Spiritual Guide in order to generate a very strong feeling of wishing to rely upon him, and then to meditate on this wish in light of the kindness of all living beings.

I began with some breathing meditation, and drew an image from the teacher at a day course I attended yesterday. He said that inner peace felt as stable as a high mountain, and as deep and calm as an ocean. I let my mind mix with the idea of a massive stable mountain and a vast still ocean, and my mind was slowly filled with a wonderful deep feeling of inner peace. I stayed with this feeling for a while.

I then moved on to the main topic, which is a feeling of sincere reliance upon my Spiritual Guide. The New Meditation Handbook gives nine benefits of relying upon a qualified Spiritual Guide, and I recalled them one at a time, generating the wish to attain each of the benefits as I thought of them. After going through the benefits individually I then thought of all of them as a whole, and generated the wish to attain all these benefits. It was like nothing else mattered and I did not want anything else in the whole world – these benefits were more meaningful than anything else I can possible wish for. I stayed with this wish for a while, and then moved back from it with the thought that these benefits all stem from one wish – the wish to rely completely upon my Spiritual Guide.

I thought of Geshe-la. I had the feeling of reaching out to him with my heart and forming a connection with him. I thought about how he exists. He has a body which I cannot meet or see at the moment. But he also manifests in his books. I have his books here in my house. In that sense, he is right here with me now. To rely on him, and hear his words, all I need to to is open his books and read. I had an image of my dharma books seeming to glow with the life of my Spiritual Guide and I felt very close to him. I then thought about how he exists in his Dharma Centres, his Teachers and his students.

I visualised Geshe-la and a connection of light between him and me. I visualised this connection bringing us closer together until we dissolved into each other. I felt like I was completely mixed with him, and I could rely upon him right here in my heart – not just at a distance.

I stayed with this beautiful feeling for some time. I then thought about what this means in light of the kindness of others.

Surely the most kind thing anyone can do is act as a Spiritual Guide to others. A qualified Spiritual Guide has only one wish – to help others attain true inner peace. He wants nothing in return. What is most meaningful to him is that others attain freedom from suffering. This is the peak of kindness.

I felt very fortunate to know my Spiritual Guide and be in his care.

I returned to my thought of reliance, qualified by my gratefulness, for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings be found by their Spiritual Guide and under their kind guidance, attain true inner peace for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remember Geshe-la in my heart, and rely on him completely.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a complete reliance upon the Spiritual Guide and then to meditate on this reliance in the light of the dangers of lower rebirth.

I began the meditation by focusing on dissolving the Guru into my mind at my heart. I felt completely mixed with him. I then thought about how he is my link to Buddha. The Blessed One’s teachings have reached me through my Spiritual Guide. There are many Spiritual Guides who show a correct path to enlightenment, but my Guru is MY Spiritual Guide who can show ME my path. If I rely on his teachings and example I can complete the path to enlightenment. I felt great happiness and delight. I felt like I was holding onto my Guru like a life belt in a stormy ocean. Although the sea and storm rage all around, I am protected and safe. No matter what happens I can be sure that I am in the protection of my Guru – all I have to do is hold tight.

What does holding tight mean? It means to study my Guru’s instructions and take them to heart – to put into PRACTICE every single one of his instructions completely. I must practice my Guru’s path – my actions are my path – I must perform the actions my Guru instructs. I must overcome my self-cherishing and abandon my selfish wishes. I must cultivate the mind of Bodhichitta. I must follow the paths of liberation and enlightenment. I must implement my vows and commitments purely. I promise you Geshe-la I will try as hard as I can. Please help me. I rely on you – please keep helping me.

I concentrated on these wishes and felt a very strong devotion to my Guru, and a determination to try to become a pure practitioner, for the benefit of my family, my friends and my Dharma Centre. I stayed with this wish for a while.

I then thought about the sufferings of the lower realms. My reliance upon my Guru is the direct protection from these sufferings. If I have 100% reliance, I am protected – guaranteed! I returned quickly to my devotional mind, and dwelt within this beautiful feeling for the rest of the meditation. Lovely.

Dedication

May all living beings quickly find their Guru, study the path they present, follow the whole of that path with pure devotion and complete the path for the benefit of all living beings without exception.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I am going to put some reminders on the inside of my wardrobe door, alongside the good qualities of my wife. I have already written them out.  Here they are:

I will abandon the eight worldly concerns:

Being pleased when receiving RESOURCES and RESPECT
Being displeased when not receiving RESOURCES and RESPECT

Being pleased when experiencing PLEASURE
Being displeased when not experiencing PLEASURE

Being pleased when enjoying a GOOD REPUTATION
Being displeased when not enjoying a GOOD REPUTATION

Being pleased when receiving PRAISE
Being displeased when not receiving PRAISE 

I will remain natural while changing my aspiration
I will not speak about degenerated limbs
I will never think about other’s faults
I will not follow delusions
I will never retaliate to verbal abuse
I will not wait in ambush 

The purpose of this meditation is to establish a firm wish to rely upon our Spiritual Guide, and then to think about this in the context of death.

I thought about what it means to rely upon something. I decided that it means that the object in question can perform the functions ascribed to it, and you trust it without doubt to perform those functions. My Spiritual Guide can lead me to enlightenment. He can help me overcome my delusions and help me make spiritual progress. I focused on the thought that I rely on my Spiritual Guide to do this. No-one else can do this – only him. I felt a deep reliance in my mind, as if I were resting on him – as if he were carrying my weight. I stayed with this for a while.

I then thought about how death and impermanence relates to this reliance. When death comes all my circumstances will change, so I need to rely on him right now, completely. I felt a deeper reliance grow, and I stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings find their Spiritual Guide, and follow him or her with great devotion until they attain enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will keep part of my mind on the feeling of reliance upon my Spiritual Guide.

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 allow us to receive the blessings of all the Enlightened Beings through our Spiritual Guide so that our meditation practice will be successful.

I began the meditation by going for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and recognising that they alone provide the path to liberation from suffering. I then considered who in my life is showing me what Buddha, Dharma and Sangha mean. It is my Spiritual Guide. I decided I needed to rely on him completely for spiritual help and guidance.

I tried to mix my mind with his mind, and imagine a door opening and the blessings of all the Buddhas flooding in through the door in the aspect of white light rays. I felt the blessings entering my heart and mixing with my mind. I tried to stay with this recognition and feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings find precious teachers who can reveal the path to Enlightenment, and attain liberation and Enlightenment themselves for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remember my reliance on my Spiritual Guide throughout the day, and practise the Dharma he teaches with faith.

The purpose of this meditation is to enable us to receive the powerful blessing of all the enlightened beings through our Spiritual Guide.

I began the meditation by thinking about my Spiritual Guide. He is the one who is providing me with correct instructions on how to live my life. I cannot find these instructions anywhere else – and I have looked. The holy Dharma is the method for use to become free from sufferings, and it is my Spiritual Guide who is giving these instructions to me. How kind he is.

My Spiritual Guide is the manifestation of all the Buddhas, so when I rely on him sincerely, I open my heart to the blessings of all the Buddhas. I generated a strong wish to rely on my Spiritual Guide and I felt a flood of blessings from all the Buddhas flow through him and into my body, and my very subtle mind. I felt the blessings entering my heart, and I felt my whole body and mind filled with their energy and virtuous potential. I let myself be completely filled, and stayed with the feeling of energy, virtue and protection for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings quickly find a Spiritual Guide and attain Full Enlightenment through sincere reliance on them.

Practice in the meditation break

I will keep a mind of reliance on my Spiritual Guide for the whole of the day and night. I will rely on his instructions and teachings in all my actions of body, speech and mind.

Buddha is in the Room with us

In the Sadhana, the words are phrased as if we are addressing someone. Why is this?

In Prayers for Meditation, the Sadhana reads:

“In the space before me, is the living Buddha Shakyamuni, surrounded by all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, like the full moon surrounded by stars.”

What does this mean?

Its meaning is incredibly profound.  When we perform the Sadhana, we do so with the recognition that Buddha Shakyamuni himself is with us. Literally in our room with us.

Imagine you are sitting with your eyes closed and you hear someone come into the room. You know they are there. You have not seen them, but you KNOW they are there. This is the feeling we should have during the Sadhana. We should KNOW that Buddha Shakyamuni is there in front of us. To the extent that when we open our eyes we should be slightly surprised that we don’t see him.

We can’t see him with our normal eyes, but we can understand that he is actually there by using our wisdom.  We should remember that the true nature of all things is their emptiness of inherent existence. Buddha Shakyamuni is empty of inherent existence, and although our normal conception of him is as a historical figure from 2,500 years ago, his true nature is formless and timeless. Therefore if we imagine with faith that he is before us as we meditate, there is no obstruction to him actually being there. He hears our prayers and requests, and he instantly comes to be with us.

In the same way as we are certain that the sun is there even though it is obscured on a cloudy day, we should be certain that Buddha is before us despite his appearance being obscured by the impurities in our mind.

This recognition will have a dramatic effect on the effectiveness of our meditations.

The next level of practise is to regard Buddha Shakyamuni as being inseparable from our Spiritual Guide. When we see the words ‘Guru Buddha’ (as in the Nine Line Migtsema Prayer) we are recognising that our Spiritual Guide, or Guru, is inseparable from Buddha Shakyamuni.

Whenever we see ‘Guru’ in front of a Buddha’s name, we are recognising that the Buddha and our Spiritual Guide are inseparably mixed. Therefore when we visualise Buddha Shakyamuni in front of us, we should imagine that his nature is that of our Spiritual Guide. Remember, as our Spiritual Guide and all the Buddhas are all empty of inherent existence, there is no logical reason why this cannot happen.

There is a very powerful reason why we should have this recognition. When we visualise our Spiritual Guide before us, all the Buddhas come into his or her body, so that when we make offerings, it is the karmic equivalent of making offerings to every one of the countless Buddhas. Furthermore, when we make requests for blessings, we receive the blessings of all the Buddhas.

Now that we understand that our Spiritual Guide, Buddha Shakyamuni and all the other countless Buddhas are present during our Sadhanas, we should focus on making as much progress as possible during each session. That is what I will be blogging about next.

Coming next: Making Progress Every Time

Modern Buddhism

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