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The purpose of this meditation is to generate the wish to act in a virtuous manner because we recognise that it is our natural way.
I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then I called to mind the instructions on meditating on karma from Eight Steps to Happiness by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
A particular phrase seemed to stand out for me this morning as I read through the section of the book. Geshe-la says that the relationship between our actions and their effects is ‘definite’. In my contemplation, I focused on this idea of the definite relationship between our actions and our experiences. If we perform virtuous actions, we will definitely experience positive results. If we perform negative actions, we will definitely experience suffering.
As I thought about this, I wondered why, given that no-one wants even the slightest suffering, that we don’t always act in virtuous ways. The answer, it seemed to me, was that the definite link between actions and their effects is not always clear to us, and our minds are clouded by delusions which distort our attitudes, and make us think that non-virtuous actions are beneficial in some way.
When we pick up a kettle that has just boiled, we pick it up by the handle. Why? Because it is obvious that we would burn ourselves if we picked it up without using the handle. It seems very natural to pick up the kettle by the handle – we do it almost without any thinking at all. We understand the suffering we would experience if we did not use the handle at such a fundamental level that it is very natural to use the handle and avoid suffering.
I thought that if we had such an understanding of the definite relationship between our negative actions and suffering, that we would act in a virtuous way simply and naturally, because it was obviously the way to avoid suffering. It would not even occur to us to act in non-virtuous ways.
I focused on this idea of acting naturally and virtuously, and a feeling arose of all my actions naturally becoming virtuous, because I naturally and effortlessly wanted to avoid suffering!
I was filled with a feeling of lightness and purity – all my actions of body, speech and mind were pure and the cause of happiness. I focused on this for the rest of my short time in meditation.
May all beings see the definite relationship between actions and their effects, and naturally act in virtuous ways in order to avoid suffering and attain enlightenment quickly for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to remember that to act virtuously is to act in the most natural way possible.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate the wish to always remember the consequences of our actions and to be extremely cautions in our actions, avoiding non-virtue and gathering abundant virtue.
I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then started by contemplating karma in general. Karma is a deeply hidden object, and only Buddhas can know which actions lead to which particular effects. But we can have faith in the truth of karma because the Buddhas and the Gurus tell us it is true. They have nothing to gain by deceiving us because they already have everything they need. All they want is for us to be free from our suffering too. Why deceive us? On this basis, we should simply accept the truth of karma, and then contemplate the consequences of this very natural and logical process.
I thought about how all my actions cause all my experiences. All my suffering and dissatisfaction come from my past n0n-virtuous actions. All my happiness and contentment come from my past virtuous actions. Given that this is the case, I need to always be extremely cautious when engaging in any actions. I need to check the action itself and also my motivation. I need to try to make sure both are as pure and virtuous as possible. I need to be mindful all day, and keep a clear intention.
I focused on this idea of a clear intention to practice virtue throughout the day, and I was slowly filled with a very clear and still feeling – perfect clarity of intention. It was very restful and blissful, and I stayed in this feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings keep a perfect intention to create positive actions, and may they quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to overcome the incessant mental chatter I have to endure from my uncontrolled mind, and maintain an inner stillness which will allow me to think about all my actions, and maintain a virtuous intention.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate the awareness of the consequences of our actions and to make a strong determination to only create positive actions – and then to think about this in terms of Bodhichitta, the wish to become enlightened for the benefit of all living beings.
I began by sitting comfortably and relaxing my body with breathing meditation. I focused my attention on the skin of my body, and confined any thoughts to the present moment, and within my skin. Whenever a thought arose about the future, or the past, or about something outside my body, I left it alone and it faded. After a while, I brought my attention further in, to my heart, and then to the very centre of my heart. There I found my Guru, and I focused my attention on his heart, and brought his heart and my heart to the same place, so that they were exactly co-incident. I felt his warmth, love, stability and stillness fill my mind, and I remained in this blissful state for a while.
I then thought about Karma. We must believe in karma if we are to be free and happy. Karma is a deeply hidden object – we cannot see it with our eyes but we can understand it with our wisdom. I thought of how karma is like a deep underwater current going from one continent to the other. Objects lost on the shore of one continent are transported deep underwater to the shores of the other. Through this process we can understand the existence of the current, even though we cannot see it directly.
Staying with a water theme, I then thought about the waves we make when we walk through waist-deep water. The waves radiate out like the consequences of our actions, and I saw that the waves radiating in front of me will rebound off a distant wall and come back for me to pass through and experience. This was a way of understanding how the consequences of our actions come back to us.
As I thought about this analogue I saw that if we create evil actions – the causes of suffering, we not only affect ourselves in the future, but we affect everyone around us right now. Actions of anger, jealousy, pride and attachment harm the people around us straight away. Likewise, virtuous actions of giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom benefit others around us straight away.
I thought about this image and how the waves of my actions radiate out and harm or benefit myself and others, and I felt a great sense of responsibility for my actions. I resolved to create only pure actions, beneficial actions. I imagined radiating out only virtuous waves of actions, and felt a very deep sense of peace and virtue. I tried to get to know this feeling intimately, so that I was very familiar with it. It was accompanied by the most lovely peaceful feeling, and I stayed with this for a while.
After this, I thought about Bodhichitta. This is the wish to become a Buddha for the benefit of all. WHAT a wave to create! And the more powerful the wave I create now, the quicker I will experience its effects. Plus, it will have a supramundane effect on others around me.
I returned to my previous feeling of creating virtuous waves, but with the exponentially more powerful thought of the wave of Bodhichitta, and I re-established my profoundly happy feeling from before. I stayed with this for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings become aware of the consequences of their actions, and resolve to create virtuous waves for the sake of themselves and all others without exception.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to make sure all my actions are motivated by Bodhichitta today, because the results are what I want.
The purpose of this meditation is to reach a firm determination to put great effort into purifying negativities and accumulating virtuous potentialities in our minds, and then to contemplate this wish in the context of the sufferings of the lower realms.
I began the meditation by thinking about how the law of karma is the underlying mechanism of everything. Samsara operates following the rules of cause and effect, but karma extends beyond samsara: even Buddhas who are free from uncontrolled rebirth still exist in accordance with the law of karma.
My Spiritual Guide has revealed karma to me, and has explained that my future experiences are caused by my actions. I thought of the many future lives I have in store for me, pervaded by suffering. They already exist as potentialities in my mind. But if I perform purification practices, I can destroy these potentialities before they become manifest! I can do this by following simple practices explained by me kind Teacher! I can also accumulate vast positive potentialities by engaging in other simple practices. How wonderful!
I focused on a strong wish to engage in virtuous actions and to purify my negativities. I felt light and joyous, knowing that these actions will lead to me avoiding lower rebirths. I focused on this light and joyous feeling for a while.
I then thought about the sufferings of the lower realms, and in particular the experience of my recent meditation where I imagined I was a caged animal enduring immense suffering. I thought about all the future lives where this will be my fate, unless I purify those potentialities right now, while I have the chance.
I returned to my feeling of lightness and joy, believing that every time I engage in an act of purification I will destroy the potentiality for a life in a cage. Each time I do this is a cause for great joy. Therefore I made the very firm promise to remain mindful of my need to purify negativities, and destroy negative karma constantly throughout the day. I focused on this wish for the rest of the meditation and experienced great lightness and joy.
May all living beings understand the law of karma, find joy in virtue, and become Buddhas for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break.
My kind Teacher, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso gives a practice in which he advises us each morning to make a firm commitment to perform certain virtuous actions during that day. Then in the evening we should review our day and see if our we have been successful in our actions. If we have been successful we should joyously dedicate our merit to the freedom of all living beings. If we have not been successful we should strengthen our determination to carry our our wishes tomorrow. I will be doing this today.
Every time I perform a virtuous action I will dedicate the merit to the purification of my negativities and the freedom of all living beings. I will then generate joy! This is truly a Joyful Path!