Posted in lojong

Lojong Point One: Train In The Preliminaries

POINT ONE: Train in the Preliminaries

1)Resolve to Begin

This involves everything that has led us to the path of the Bodhisattva. It’s hard to view our past as part of the path, especially when our past may have been particularly difficult. But the truth is everything that’s happened to us before now has led us to this training. In training in the preliminaries we take a good hard look at ourselves and the things that have led us to who we are and what we are doing. When we look at our lives honestly we can see all sorts of things we may not have noticed. We have to see that the path we have been on isn’t serving us or others as well as it could and we have to strive to be on a better path.

Cultivating a regular meditation practice is another way we train in the preliminaries. It’s very important to have time on the cushion and we have to always keep that in mind. Meditation is foundational and it’s importance can’t be overestimated. Meditate regularly.

It’s said that we should keep four things in mind, which are called The Four Reminders. We need to reflect on these reminders over and over. They are taken as our inspiration on the path.

These are:

  1. The preciousness and rarity of human life, being born in a time and place where we are lucky enough to study the dharma. There have been plenty of times and places throughout history (and there still are some today) where the dharma was not available at all. Today we not only have access to the dharma but also to a great wealth of teachings.
  2. The reality of death, that life is temporary and can end at any moment. Every day we are getting older and drawing closer to our end. This means we should put a great focus on what’s important to us.
  3. The power of karma, the way whatever we do puts us further in the chain of cause and effect. Everything we do has far reaching consequences.
  4. The inevitability of suffering for ourselves and  all other beings. Everyone suffers, just like we do. We need to keep that in mind when we’re dealing with others. we’re all struggling.

 

This slogan sets the tone for the whole thing. It establishes the difference between the realm of suffering, which is pain, neurosis, and egotism, and the other shore, which is openness, gentleness, and freedom. This is where we set our intention to recognize the importance of the spiritual path.

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Posted in diamond sutra

Diamond Sutra, chapter 25

The lord Buddha continued:

“Subhuti, one should realize the egolessness of all things and understand selflessness. Why? because great disciples do not see merit as a personal possession, as something to be gained.”

Subhuti asked, “What do you mean?”

The Buddha replied:

“Because great disciples do not seek merit, they do not see them as personal possessions, but they see them as the common possession of all beings.”

It’s important to remember that we are practicing the six perfections: generosity, patience, virtue, diligence, concentration and wisdom, not for ourselves and our own generation of merit, but for the good of all beings. When one being becomes Awakened, it truly helps all beings and makes the world a better place.

Posted in diamond sutra

Diamond Sutra, chapter 17

The Buddha continued:

“If a follower were to give away many treasures, would a great blessing and merit be generated?”

Subhuti replied, “Yes they would acquire considerable blessings and merit.”

The Buddha said:

“Subhuti, if such a blessing had any substantiality, if it were anything other than a figure of speech, I would not have used the words ‘blessings and merit’.”

The Buddha is challenging public ideas about karma. Karma is a complicated matter in Buddhism. Many people then, and now, thought of it as ‘if you do good things, then good things will happen to you’. The point is we should practice virtue because we want to practice virtue, not because we believe it will generate good karma for us.