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The purpose of this meditation is to develop a very strong wish to turn to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as the sources of protection and refuge from samsara’s sufferings, and then to see what this means in light of Bodhichitta.

I began by thinking about the meditation from yesterday, and all the other sufferings of samsara. I then quickly thought about where protection can be found – in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. I made the commitment to put great effort into this meditation today, so that it would take me closer to gaining the protection I need.

With that thought, I did some breathing meditation, relaxing my body and bringing my mind into my heart. I concentrated on a feeling of clarity, and that my mind was mixing with my Spiritual Guide’s clarity. It felt completely calm and clear, settled and still. I stayed with this stillness for a while.

I then moved on to the main meditation. I rekindled my meditation of yesterday, where I imagined a future life where I was similar to an animal being experimented on in some laboratory. I was experiencing great confusion, pain and fear. There was no help and no respite. Continual suffering. I looked at this for a while and developed sincere dread, because this will definitely happen to me.

I then mentally rewound time, like on a DVD, coming back to today, and this life. My actions now will decide if I end up in that laboratory. I know what I need to do – I need to turn to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for protection against such a future.

I looked to Buddha, and recognised that I am like a sick man, plagued with the disease of delusions. Buddha is the supreme physician, who knows my disease and knows exactly how to cure me. His Dharma is the medicine for my sickness, and if I turn to him, I can learn and take this medicine. The Sangha are the spiritual community who can help me understand the medicine, and give me practical help. I resolved to turn to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to protect me from the suffering that will definitely happen.

I focused on these thoughts, and it felt like the waves of my faith were washing me into the arms of Buddha. My weak and pathetic body and mind were bourne into his arms, which supported me and protected me from the sufferings of the ocean of samsara. I concentrated on the feeling of being in the arms of Buddha, and being protected by his wisdom and compassion. I focused on this for a long while. It was humbling.

I then turned my thoughts to what this means in terms of Bodhichitta – the wish to become a Buddha for the benefit of all.

I turn to Buddha for protection. What am I doing while in his protection? I am learning to protect myself from suffering – this is the process of becoming a Buddha myself. I turn to Buddha for refuge, and my aim is to become an object of refuge myself. I thought about how wonderful this is, and then returned to the feeling of being protected from suffering by my strong faith and refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Dedication

May all living beings turn to the Three Jewels for protection from samsara’s suffering, and may they become objects of refuge quickly, for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will imagine myself in the protection of Buddha, constantly taking the medicine of Dharma, and being helped by my Sangha.

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 gain actual protection from lower rebirth and then to meditate on this protection in the light of renunciation – the wish to abandon samara completely.

I began the meditation by recalling the essential points that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso makes about this meditation in his book The New Meditation Handbook. In it he says that Buddha is like a supreme doctor who diagnoses our illness of a deluded mind and prescribes our treatment. The Dharma is the supreme medicine that Buddha prescribes and the Sangha are our pure spiritual friends who are like supreme nurses who will help us get better.

As I thought about it I wondered how relying on these Three Jewels could be the actual protection from lower rebirth. I thought about this for a while and it occurred to me that if I rely completely on the Three Jewels at the time of my death it will cause positive karma to ripen which will propel me to a higher rebirth or even to a pure land. Furthermore if I rely on the Three Jewels sincerely throughout my life I will generate much positive karma, little negative karma and I will purify huge amounts of the negative karma I have already accumulated. The Three Jewels are pure and virtuous by their nature, and if I keep them in my mind constantly, then my mind will have purity too, through their power. I came to see how strong reliance upon the Three Jewels was indeed the actual protection from lower rebirth.

I focused on this understanding, I let my mind settle on the feeling of the Three Jewels being a guiding light in a dark place. I felt like they were shining pure light on me as I trod a narrow path. I felt the need to head straight for the light of the Three Jewels, not deviating or looking to the left or the right, but moving straight ahead. I felt the kind of feeling I experience when I listen to majestic stirring music – the kind of music that conjures up images of vast landscapes and the monumental forces of nature. I let these feelings fill my mind as I imagined moving directly towards the Three Jewels on the path of protection. I stayed with this for a while.

Later I decided it was time to think about what this means in the light of renunciation – the wish to abandon samsara completely. Refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is an essential component of renunciation. Without refuge in the Three Jewels there is no protection from lower or higher rebirth – there is no protection from any of the sufferings of samsara. With this understanding I put my refuge practice in context – the very foundation for all spiritual progress and the root of all spiritual paths.

I returned to feeling of moving forwards on the path of protection, directly towards the light of the Three Jewels. I promised Buddha that I would stay on this path until I reached the end and met him directly, and became inseparable from him. I stayed with this for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

I sincerely wish that all living beings shall find refuge in the Three Supreme Jewels, and follow the path of protection directly to enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will practice the Refuge Vows and try to keep my mind of refuge alive in my mind.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a super strong wish to go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and then to think about this wish in the light of actions and their effects.

I began the meditation by thinking about just how rare it is to find true refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. There are so many things in life to spend time doing, and taking refuge in the Three Jewels is by no means the most obviously appealing choice! I thought about a city like New York. I imagined walking along looking at the shops, the restaurants, the theatres, the clubs, the bars, the casinos… all the possible attractions that could catch the eye. All these things seem to promise happiness, but only the Three Jewels actually deliver true happiness.

I imagined turning into a beautiful Buddhist Temple – it was quiet and tranquil after the dazzling lights and beeping horns outside. I imagined walking through the temple space to stand in front of the shrine where there was an exquisite gold statue of Shakyamuni Buddha.

I prostrated and settled into a meditation posture and went for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. I repeated in my mind – ‘I go for refuge to the Three Jewels, please bless my mind and protect me from the suffering of samsara.’ I stayed with this feeling of going to refuge – of seeking true happiness and protection. I felt a lovely expansive space open in my mind, so that it seemed like my mind filled the universe, which was empty. I kept repeating the words and focusing on their meaning, and developed a very joyful feeling of going for refuge, which I stayed with for a while.

This feeling is an action – a mental action. The effect is for me to develop deep faith in the Three Jewels and follow the path or virtue throughout all my lives. I focused on this for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings take refuge in the Three Jewels, and through their protection, attain the state of Buddhahood for the sake of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remember that the only real protection from suffering comes from reliance upon the Three perfect Jewels.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a deep wish to go for refuge to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and then to think about what this means in the light of the whole Lamrim.

I began by thinking about how natural it is to seek protection from threats. We find secure places where we can relax, we lock our doors at night to protect ourselves. We seek the comfort and protection of friends and family.

But where can I find protection from suffering? Buddha teaches that suffering pervades our whole life.

In the past we could believe in paradises. Perhaps there was a land far, far away where everything was perfect and there was no suffering – a real Shangri-la. But now I know there is no such place. The television and the internet bring the whole world to my living room and I can see that there is nowhere in the world where I can go and escape suffering.

However, there is a direction I can turn to which will provide protection. I can turn to Buddha who shows me the truth of my situation. I can turn to the Dharma, Buddha’s perfect instructions for pacifying and destroying my problems. I can turn to the Sangha, my spiritual friends who will help me in my quest. I turn to these Three Jewels for protection.

I thought about how the Three Jewels are my protection. I can do no more that to go completely to the Three Jewels for refuge. I felt a very clear and safe feeling of protection. I felt a strong need to seek this protection – protection from the sufferings of samsara. I focused on this feeling for a while.

I then thought about what this means in the light of the 21 Lamrim meditations as a whole. The Lamrim IS the Dharma. All of Buddha’s teachings are condensed into the Lamrim, and by meditating on the Lamrim, we are meditating on ALL of Buddha’s teachings. I felt wonderful! I go for refuge to Buddha, Lamrim and Sangha!! I felt that my practice of Lamrim gave total meaning to my life – a joyful and valiant feeling. I stayed with this for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings go for refuge to the Three Jewels, and become Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Session

I will go for refuge constantly to the Three Jewels and to the Lamrim as the embodiment of the Dharma and try to feel the living presence of Buddha with me at all times.

Meditation 4/4

The purpose of this meditation is to generate a recognition of our precious human life and then meditate on this recognition in the light of our Refuge Practice.

I began the meditation by thinking about I have such a rare opportunity to make my life meaningful. I have all the conditions I need. Geshe Kelsang has given me everything I need to make my life meaningful. I focused on this simple recognition for a while, and a wish to take advantage of this opportunity arose in my mind. I stayed with this wish for a while.

I then thought about refuge practice. The actual protection from suffering is to go for refuge to the Three Precious Jewels. My human life allows me to take refuge in the Three Jewels – without this life I would have no opportunity to take refuge. They are the perfect combination. My human life seemed all the more meaningful because of this recognition, and I stayed with this expansive, joyous feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings practice Dharma purely, right now, for the benefit of all, and achieve the highest attainment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to maintain a recognition of my precious human life throughout the day and night.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop the strong wish to rely on Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as our ultimate source of refuge, and then to think about what this means in the context of the dangers of lower rebirth.

I began the meditation by remembering that this human life is not a permanent state: it is only a temporary release from the sufferings of the lower realms.  Like a prisoner who is released for a short time before being forced to continue his sentence, I am definitely going to return to the lower realms unless I take action while I have the chance.

I have met Buddha who is like a doctor who has shown me I have the mental diseases of the delusions. I have met the Dharma, Buddha’s pure cure for my diseases. And I have met the Sangha, the kind and inspiring nurses who will help me heal my mental continuum. I know that the Three Jewels can protect me – I have faith in them.

If I do nothing, it is certain I will take rebirth in the lower realms, but if I rely completely on Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, I can avoid this fate.

I remembered the cage experience from my previous meditation. I felt the fear in my stomach. I felt like someone was showing me this and saying ‘This is where you are heading, unless you take some action now’. The feeling of dread immediately made me want to take the action necessary to avoid being sealed in that cage again. I would do anything, because anything would be better than that.

Then I considered what the actions are. I would be prepared to climb mountains, clear forests, work hard doing anything to avoid the lower realms. But it turns out that the actions I need to take are all mostly internal, and frankly, easy by comparison.

The foundation of these actions is going for refuge to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. I developed the sincere wish to rely upon the Three Jewels with all my being – I will do exactly what they say, and avoid the lower realms!

I felt joy! Like I was protected and lifted at the same time. I felt refuge flow through me, and the certainty that I will always go for Refuge, even at the cost of my life.

I then thought about what this means in the context of the sufferings of the lower realms. This was already firmly in my mind, and I tried to combine not only the feeling of being protected, but also the feeling of what I am protected from. Fear is one of the two causes of going for refuge, faith being the other. I tried to keep these two in my awareness, feeding my feeling of refuge. I stayed with this for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings develop fear and faith, and progress to the state beyond sorrow for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will put the 12 refuge vows into practice throughout the day and night.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a strong wish to gain protection from samsara’s sufferings by going for refuge to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and then to meditate on this wish within the context of death and impermanence.

I began the meditation by recognising that the only sources of true protection are the Three Jewels. There is no other religion, science or philosophy which explains correctly how we suffer and how we can end suffering. True protection cannot be found elsewhere – it is a unique characteristic of the Three Jewels.

I imagined the Three Jewels as a protective circle around me, showing me the way things really are and providing protection for me. I immediately felt joy and relief at being protected from the dread of suffering. I focused on this idea and I developed a strong feeling that the Three Jewels were becoming part of my heart, infusing my whole body and mind with protection.

After a while of enjoying this feeling, I turned my thoughts to what this means in the context of death and impermanence. When I die, this protection will be the only thing that has a lasting effect. After my death, the world that appears to me now will vanish completely and I will experience a totally different world. I won’t recognise anyone or anything. I realised that I want my protective circle to remain with me, so I started to strongly wish that my refuge will continue into all my future lives.

I thought that I must have done this in the past, to have found the Three Jewels now in this life. And as you are reading this now, you must – in a past life – have prayed to also never be parted from Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. I wished with all my heart that I never be parted from the Three Jewels because it will give me protection from suffering and the opportunity to become a Buddha, and then lead every living being without exception to that ground.

I focused on this wish for the rest of the meditation, and I developed a lovely calm, peaceful and meaningful feeling which was beautiful because it felt good, but also embodied the meaning of my contemplations.

Dedication

May all living beings never be parted from peaceful and wrathful Manjushri, but always come under their care until they become enlightened beings.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will maintain a strong with to go for refuge to the Three Jewels and dedicate the merit of the practice so that all living beings may have the protection of the Three Jewels too.

Meditation 2/4

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a sincere mind of refuge in the context of our precious human life.

I began the meditation by thinking about where I can turn for real help and guidance in my life. I have followed plenty of people in my life, but they have always let me down in the sense they have never provided me with the answers to the biggest questions. Science accepts that it cannot provide these answers, and mistrusts those who claim they can.

But Buddha provides these answers. Buddha’s timeless instructions are as perfect for us now as they were 2500 years ago, and they will remain so for humans of this world because our problems remain the same. Buddha gives me the medicine to cure myself of my sufferings. He gives me Dharma teachings and his blessings. The Sangha will help me understand and encourage me along the path with their good example.

To cure my sufferings, I must rely on the Three Jewels: I let my mind focus on my refuge in the Three Jewels – the main theme of my life.

Then I wondered: how does my precious human life inform my refuge practice? My contact with Dharma is on of the endowments which make my human life precious. I have the opportunity to go for refuge because I have my precious human life.

This thought made my refuge practice seem even more special and precious, and I mixed my mind completely with this wonderful feeling of entering the protection of the Three Jewels by going for refuge to them.

Dedication

May all living beings find refuge in the Three Jewels and become Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will keep a watch on my mind and try to always remember that my Bodhichitta wish depends upon strong Refuge in the Three Jewels.

Meditation 1/4

The purpose of this meditation is to generate a deep sense of going for protection to the Three Jewels, so that we can attain permanent liberation from the sufferings of samsara.

I began the meditation by remembering my fear of lower rebirth. I tried to relive the very real sense of fear I have previously generated. I then asked myself what I was going to do about this fear. I need to do something! At the moment I have good conditions but they will not last forever. I need to do something now to avoid the catastrophe awaiting me.

I generated deep faith in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, as the objects that can actually offer me protection from my fears. An image came to mind of a vast lightless void many miles deep. I was suspended in the middle of the void in a harness, attached to a rope. Someone was pulling the rope up through a circle of light high above me. It was the only source of light. The person pulling is Buddha, who is trying to release me from the dangers of samara. The rope is Dharma, the actual means of escape. The harness is Sangha, who keep me securely attached to the Dharma.

I understood how precarious my situation is, and how I have to put my complete trust in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to escape samsara. I focused on this feeling of trust and reliance on the three Jewels for the rest of the meditation. It felt like I had a connection with them all; a very solid connection which will be able to lead me out of the sufferings of samsara. It felt hopeful and safe.

Dedication

May all living beings take refuge in the Three Jewels, and escape samsara to become fully enlightened beings.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will keep my mind of refuge throughout the day, and recite the prayer of going for refuge as many times as possible, concentrating on the feeling I have developed in my meditation today.

Modern Buddhism

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