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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 equalise our motivations for ourselves with our motivations for others. We then consider what this means in terms of taking the sufferings of others.

I began by meditating on my breath and mixing my mind with my Guru’s mind, before moving on to the main meditation.

I refreshed my memory of the warmth and friendliness I need to generate towards others, and then I thought of the fact that all others are really my mother – my kind mother of past lives. With this feeling of warmth and appreciation, I thought about how much I owe them. How much in their debt I am.

As I rolled this thought around in my mind, I felt a growing wish to repay their kindness, and a realisation that when I perform any action, it should be with the motivation to benefit others just as much as I wish to benefit myself. I thought of this like being 360 degree work, where the actions I perform are not just for my benefit (in one direction) but for the benefit of all (360 degrees). I latched on to this idea and let it fill my attention, and I focused on it for a while…

I then moved on to bring in the frame of taking – what does this 360 work mean in terms of the practice of taking?

It seemed to me that if I can embed the idea of working for the benefit of all living beings in everything I do, it will lay perfect foundations for the practice of taking on the sufferings of all living beings. With this in mind, I returned to the idea of 360 degree work for the benefit of myself and others.

Dedication

May all living beings practice equalising self and others, and through their endeavours for the benefit of all living beings, may they attain the exalted state of enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to keep this idea of 360 degree work throughout the day, and recognise that all my actions should be for the benefit of all living beings as well as to my own benefit.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate joy through the taking of others’ suffering and the destruction of our own self-cherishing, and then to meditate on this joy in light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing.

I began with breathing meditation and quickly settled into a balanced and still state of mind.

I started by remembering how all living beings are so kind to me, and have been so kind in the past. I thought about how, if someone had saved my life when I was a child, and then many years later I heard that they had died, I would remember their kindness and feel appreciation and gratitude. The amount of time since we received the kindness does not affect the kindness we received.

Since all living beings have been our kind mother in the past, I generated love and gratitude towards them all.

I then moved on to think about a good friend of mine who has severe pain in her arms and wrists. I imagined her and all other living beings who are suffering pain in their arms and wrists. I imagined what is must be like, and how it is really a resembling hell, telling us that real hell realms exist. I imagined that my friend and the others were trapped in hell, with torturers forcing their arms into crushing machines, or hitting their arms with hammers and rocks. The pain was unbearable.

I then imagined that all this pain and suffering rose up and away from them like clouds of black smoke. As it did so, the hell realms disappeared and my friend and the others were free of their suffering. They could relax and sleep in peace and comfort.

The clouds of smoke came over to me and gathered at my heart. The smoke concentrated and wrapped itself around the rotten core of my self-cherishing mind. It crushed my self-cherishing mind and destroyed it completely, so that the smoke and my self-cherishing were completely removed.

I felt completely free from all the suffering caused by my ‘self’. I was completely free and experienced and brilliant joy, knowing that my suffering has ended completely. I looked across at my friend and all other living beings, and their suffering had ended too, and this added to the feeling of complete freedom from suffering. I focused on this feeling for a while, single-pointedly.

After a while, I wondered what this means in light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing. I remembered that self-cherishing is the cause of all my suffering, and the practice of taking the suffering of others as described above is the actual method of destroying my self cherishing. I need others in order to practice taking so I can end my suffering – how kind others are!

Once again, I focused on the feeling of myself and all living beings having freedom from our suffering, and remained with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

Through the power of my practice of willingly accepting the sufferings of myself and others, may all beings be completely free from suffering.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will mount taking on the breath as advised in Universal Compassion, and practice the precept of ‘Perform Every Suppression of Interference by One’.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the feeling that everyone has had their suffering removed from them and we ourselves are freed from the cause of our own suffering. We then meditate on this feeling in the light of equalising self and others.

I began with some breathing meditation followed by moving on to the main topic.

I reminded myself of the compassionate wish I developed to free all living beings from their suffering. I then imagined that all the suffering of all living beings (including that of my mother) rose out of them like black smoke. As the smoke came away from them, they felt the removal of their suffering and felt happiness. As the smoke came towards me it gathered and condensed into my heart and destroyed my self-cherishing, which is the cause of all my suffering. As my self-cherishing vanished I too felt happiness and joy, and I meditated on this feeling for a while.

I then thought about what this means in light of equalising self and others. I thought that taking is a very equal feeling too – myself and all living beings are equal in being free from our suffering. I returned to my feeling of happiness and joy that we are all free from suffering.

Dedication

May all living beings be free from self-cherishing and in this way become complete Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to imagine taking the suffering of others onto myself, and take whatever practical steps I can to remove the suffering of others.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop the strong belief that we have successfully taken on the sufferings of others and that we have destroyed our own self-cherishing. Following this we meditate on this belief in the light of equanimity.

I began the meditation by relaxing my body in four parts. With each out breath, I imagined my head and shoulders, then my trunk, then my arms, and finally my legs becoming relaxed. I repeated the cycle several times until my body felt very relaxed and light. I then imagined the tension at my heart relaxing, and felt a deep relaxation spread throughout my body and mind. Finally I imagined entering my heart and sitting in meditation at my heart, in the centre of my mind. I developed a very stable concentration, and then moved on to the next stage of the meditation.

I thought about my experiences yesterday, and my strong wish for all living beings to be free from their suffering. I remembered my love for all living beings, and through the power of this love I decided that I, myself, would free all living beings from their sufferings. I imagined standing before the wheel of life, looking at all the suffering beings, and declaring ‘I will free you from your suffering! I will take your suffering now”.

I thought about the various sufferings of the six realms, and imagined that their suffering, problems and obstructions rose out of them in the aspect of black smoke. The smoke rose out of each realm in turn and swirled around me like black stars around the centre of a galaxy. Finally all six realms had given up their sufferings, and every living being was free from suffering. I observed them – they were free!

Then I imagined that this swirling black smoke gradually came closer and closer in towards me, circling my heart, before dissolving into my heart. As this massive cloud dissolved into my heart, it destroyed my self-cherishing, and I realised that I was completely free from suffering, both now and in the future. I felt completely filled with joy, and it felt like I was rising higher and higher away from my normal state and going up to a pure state where those who are free from suffering abide.

I enjoyed this feeling while at the same time remembering that to achieve this I must take the suffering of others. It struck me as ironic that normally we cannot bear the idea of taking on the suffering of others (we cannot even bear our own suffering). But in fact, by taking on the suffering of others, we actually achieve complete freedom from suffering!

I focused on this wonderful, joyous feeling of freedom for a long while.

Then I moved on to the last stage of the meditation, where I looked at this feeling in the light of equanimity. My warm and friendly feelings for others – for all other living beings – is the reason I can free others. If I did not love others, I would not be motivated to free them from their suffering. Knowing that my taking the suffering of others is motivated by this love made it seem all the more precious, and I focused again on the feeling of freedom – freedom of myself and others.

Dedication

May all living beings learn that freedom from suffering comes from taking on the suffering of others, and though this practice may they quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remember my determination to take on the sufferings of others, both practically and mentally, for the rest of the meditation break.

The purpose of this meditation is to strengthen our compassionate actions by mentally taking the sufferings of others onto ourselves, and then to meditate on this feeling in the light of renunciation – the wish to be free from the sufferings of samsara.

I began by establishing a very calm and peaceful feeling through breathing meditation. I stayed there for about 8 minutes.

I then moved on to think about my compassionate wish for all living beings to be free from suffering – the feeling I established in my previous meditation. I reviewed the cherishing love I have for others and the understanding of their suffering, and let the feeling of compassion arise naturally. I focused on this feeling for a short while and then moved forward with a firm decision to take the sufferings of others away from them.

I imagined standing on a high mountain looking down over a vast plain filled with suffering living beings and declaring ‘I will take on your suffering – I will free you from your suffering’. I mentally repeated those words and tried to connect with them – tried to make every part of my attention connect with their meaning.Then through the power of my declaration, I drew the suffering of all living beings out of their bodies in the aspect of black smoke. Huge amounts of black smoke came from each one – how much suffering they all have!

I envisioned the smoke rising and gathering around me, slowly concentrating in my heart and as it did so, destroying my self-cherishing mind. I felt it go into my heart and destroy my self-cherishing completely. I felt pure and weightless, and I also saw the freedom of all other living beings – completely free from suffering. A world free from suffering. A universe free from all suffering!

I stayed with this feeling of freedom for a while.

I then moved on to see what this feeling meant in the light of renunciation – the wish to attain freedom from personal suffering. Taking results in me destroying my self-cherishing mind and undermines the basis for my own suffering. Therefore Taking moves me forward in my wish to be free from samsara and its sufferings. Although Taking is a practice of the Great Scope, it does not contradict the practice of renunciation. Again, I felt a mutually supporting synergy between the practices, and returned to my feeling of removing the sufferings of all living beings, resulting in both myself and others being free from suffering.

Dedication

May all living beings be able to take on the sufferings of others, and thereby attain liberation and enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to unhesitatingly put myself out to help others today, and while doing so remember that my deepest wish is for all living beings to be completely free from all their sufferings and problems.

The purpose of this meditation is to strengthen our compassionate actions by developing the strong feeling of mentally taking the sufferings of others onto ourself, and then to contemplate this feeling in the light of actions and their effects.

I began the meditation by thinking about the sufferings of others and how I want it to stop. I imagined the sufferings of all the beings in the six realms. I imagined them all trapped in their own prisons of suffering.

I brought to mind my wish for them to be free of their suffering and made the determination that I will personally free them from their sufferings.

I reminded myself of the feeling of shaking the fence from my last meditation, and then imagined that as I shook the fence, it slowly dissolved into emptiness in my hands. All the suffering from all living beings gathered into my heart in the aspect of black smoke. It condensed and solidified, and then destroyed my self cherishing mind in my heart.

I recognised that all living beings were free from their suffering and that I was also free from my own suffering (caused by my self-cherishing). I thought ‘it’s over – all suffering is over’. I felt like all living beings were exhausted but elated, finally free from their suffering. I stayed with the feeling for a while.

I then thought about what this means in the light of actions and their effects. If I take on the sufferings of others, then they are free from suffering. They cannot benefit from their suffering, but I can. I can use the suffering to destroy my self-cherishing, so for me it is valuable. I recognised that I can take on the suffering of others without fear of harm. I returned to my feeling of having taken on the suffering of others completely for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings learn to take on the sufferings of others and destroy their own self cherishing mind – and then become Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will look for ways to help others and relieve their suffering, and any suffering I experience in the process I will use as an opponent to my self-cherishing.

The purpose of this meditation is to mentally take on the sufferings of all other living beings and by so doing destroy their sufferings and our self-cherishing and negativities. Then, once this view is established, to meditate on this view in the light of our refuge practice.

I began the meditation by remembering how all living beings are carrying the weight of suffering in their hearts. I remembered my love for them and felt my compassion naturally arise. I let the feeling of compassion grow for a while and then I decided to take on their suffering. The flow of their suffering transformed into smoke which gathered in front of me. Then I imagined a small funnel of smoke coming out of the cloud of smoke and into my heart. I imagined that the smoke was drawn down this funnel into my heart, and as it came, all living beings became free from their suffering. At the same time, the smoke was destroying my self-cherishing mind and all my negative karmic imprints. As the last of the smoke dissolved into my heart, I felt a huge relief as both myself and all other living beings became free from suffering. It felt relaxed and blissful, and I stayed with the feeling for a while.

I then thought about what this means in the light of refuge practice. To go for refuge means to turn to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for help to overcome and destroy our delusions. This feeling of destroying all suffering is what Buddha wants us all to experience, as well as the ability to actually do it. I prayed to Buddha for help in being able to eventually take on the sufferings of all living beings for real. I remained with this wish for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings enter the path to freedom, practice taking the sufferings of others, and thereby become Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to view others as suffering beings, unable to control their delusions. I will try to be patient with them and do whatever I can to alleviate their sufferings. I will pray for the ability to actually take on their sufferings in the future.

Meditation 4/15

The purpose of this meditation is to take the sufferings of all living beings and to meditate on the feeling in the light of the dangers of lower rebirth.

I began the meditation by thinking about the sufferings of living beings and my sincere wish to free them from their sufferings. I imagined that I had taken the sufferings of all living beings from them – it had risen out of their bodies and dissolved into mind like black smoke. As it dissolved into my heart I felt my self-cherishing dissolve too, becoming less and less powerful until it vanished altogether. I felt free from all my problems, and all living beings were free from their problems, fears and obstructions. I felt a deep joy at myself and all living beings being free from our present and future sufferings.

I stayed with this feeling of joy for a while and then considered what the sufferings of lower rebirth mean for this feeling. It is clear that the sufferings I am taking from others include the sufferings of the lower realms. I am freeing the beings in the lower realms from their unimaginable sufferings. The feeling of joy became stronger, and I mixed my mind with it  for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all licing beings learn to take on the sufferings of others, and become Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remember that taking for me at the moment means to happily accept my suffering in alleviating the sufferings of others – I will try to do this today.

The purpose of this meditation is to become intimately familiar with the practice of taking on the sufferings of other living beings, and then to view this practice in the light of our precious human life.

I began the meditation by recalling how all living beings are suffering constantly. I thought of my parents once again, and their suffering. I thought of all living beings and how they all – without one single exception – are suffering or will suffer horrible pain and despair.

I gritted my mental teeth and made the firm determination ‘I myself will do something about this. I will remove all their suffering permanently!’ I stayed on this thought for a while, letting it build in strength until I could hardly contain it.

Then I visualised that through the power of my merit and the blessings of my Spiritual Guide, all the sufferings, problems and obstacles of all living beings rose out of their bodies like inky black smoke. So much smoke! The smoke came towards me from the whole world and from all the world systems and realms of samsara. The cloud was as big as the solar system. It swirled around me like a vast hurricane getting smaller and smaller centring on my body. It became more and more concentrated until it became the essence of all the suffering of all living beings, dissolving into my heart. I felt it enter my heart and instantly destroy my self-cherishing mind.

At that instant I was aware of a universal silence. It seemed like the universe and all living beings were holding their breath. The suffering was gone. There was no suffering anywhere. My heart was purified – crystal clear purity.

Through the power of my merit and my Spiritual Guides blessings, I have purified samsara of all its sufferings and torments, and it is now filled with purity and light. It felt vast, empty, pure and clean. It was the most beautiful feeling, and I stayed with it for a while.

I then (slightly reluctantly) took a step back and asked what this means in the context of my precious human life? I thought about the stages of Lamrim, and how each builds on the last. What a skillful and perfect set of instructions. Each step on the path seemed to be more and more precious and rare. My human life is like a path through a poisonous forest, where even one step off the path will end in disaster. But I can see the path and to have this opportunity is so very, very special.

It seemed like my opportunity to engage in the practice of taking took on an completely new level of significance, and I meditated on the clean purity of the universe and my heart and the same time as recognising the preciousness and rarity of the opportunity itself.

Dedication

May all living beings learn to perfectly take on the sufferings of others, and become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will mount taking and the later practice of giving on the breath (as described in the book, Universal Compassion) and practise this throughout the day. May all living beings be happy and free from suffering.

Meditation 1/14

Modern Buddhism

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