LAMRIM CHENMO (2)


THE MEDITATION SESSION


THE CONDENSED PRESENTATION OF HOW TO PRACTICE

This has two points: the actual way to practice and the need to employ two kinds of practice.

THE ACTUAL WAY TO PRACTICE

This has two points: what to do during the meditation session itself and what to do in the periods between sessions.


WHAT TO DO DURING THE MEDITATION SESSION ITSELF

This has three points: what to do in preparation, what to do during the actual meditation session, and what to do at the end.


WHAT TO DO IN PREPARATION

Engage in the six preparatory practices presented in the biography of Serlingpa as follows:

First, clean your dwelling and arrange representations of the exalted body, speech, and mind. Second, beautifully arrange offerings honestly acquired.
Third, on a comfortable seat straighten your body and assume a suitable lotus or half-lotus posture, making sure that your mind is suffused with refuge and bodhicitta.
Fourth, in the space in front of you, imagine the lineage gurus of vast conduct and profound view as well as countless buddhas, arya bodhisattvas, srvakas, and pratyekabuddhas along with those who dwell in the Buddha’s words.

Thus visualise the merit field.
Fifth, it is exceedingly difficult for paths to arise in your mindstream if the favourable conditions for their arising, the accumulations [of merit and wisdom], have not been collected and their adverse conditions, the obstructions, have not been purified.

Therefore, to unite the key points of accumulation and purification, purify your mindstream by means of the seven-limb practice. As for the limb of prostration combining the three doors is set out in the stanza.

I bow respectfully with body, speech, and mind
to all the lions among men without exception,
in however many worlds there are
in the ten directions and three times.

This is not prostration to the buddhas in just the world sphere in one direction and of one time. Rather, focusing on all the victors residing in all ten directions past, present, and future, you reverently prostrate body, speech, and mind to them from the depths of your heart.

There are prostrations for each of the three doors individually. [28] Physical prostration is set out in the stanza:

Owing to the power of prayer for good conduct,
all the buddhas directly appear to my mind.
I bow sincerely to all these buddhas
with as many bodies as there are atoms in the world.

You take all the victors in all directions and times as the objects of your mental focus, as though perceiving them directly. Emanating your own body in manifestations as numerous as fine particles, your prostrate to them. And having generated the power of faith in the excellent conduct of these holy objects, be motivated by that.

Mental prostration is set forth in the stanza:

On every atom, as many buddhas as there are atoms
are surrounded by bodhisattvas.
Every one is absorbed in meditation on suchness.
I fully venerate all of these accomplished ones.

On top of each minute particle, buddhas as innumerable as dust particles reside encircled by bodhisattvas. Generate the faith that recollects their excellent qualities.

Verbal prostration is set forth in the stanza:

I extol the good qualities of all the buddhas.
I praise all of the sugatas
with the sounds of an ocean of songs
in voices of inexhaustible seas of praise.

From each of the bodies emanate innumerable heads, and from each of the heads again innumerable tongues singing inexhaustible praises of the objects’ excellent qualities to sweet melodies. Here “songs” are praises, and their “voices” – that is, their causes – are the tongues. The word “ocean” conveys a great quantity.


As for the limb of offering, surpassable offerings are set forth in the two stanzas:

I offer these buddhas and bodhisattvas
fabulous flowers, glorious garlands,
cymbals, scented balm, precious parasols,
excellent butter lamps, and superb incense.

I offer these buddhas and bodhisattvas
sublime garments, supreme scents,
sachets of fragrant powder equal to Mount Meru,
and every wonderful thing in a splendid array.

“Fabulous flowers” are marvelous specimens of divine and human flowers. “Glorious garlands” are many different kinds of flowers strung together. Both together encompass every actual and imaginary flower.

“Cymbals” are the sounds of traditional instruments and the like. “Scented balm” is a mixture of fragrant perfumes. “Precious parasols” are the finest of parasols. “Butter lamps” are fragrant radiant lights from things like incense or butter, as well as glowing jewel lights. “Incense” refers to combinations of fragrant substances and to single ones.

“Sublime garments” are the finest of clothes. A “supreme scent” is water and the like pervaded by a scent that fills the billon world systems with fragrance. The “sachets of powder” are packaged powders of fragrant incense suitable for scattering and burning, or the colored sand powder of a mandala, in multiple layers as wide and as high as Mount Meru. “Array”, joined at the end to all the above, means a great quantity, artfully and colourfully arranged.

Unsurpassable offerings are set forth in the stanza:

May all these unsurpassable and vast offerings
appear before all the buddhas and bodhisattvas.
Through the power of faith along with virtuous deeds,
I pay homage and make offerings to all the conquerors.

Since surpassable offerings are those of worldly beings, this here is everything good emanated by powerful beings such as bodhisattvas. [29]

The last two lines are to be jointed to all the previous couplets in order to complete them. They indicate the motivation for the prostrations and offerings as well as their object.

The confession of bad actions is set forth in the stanza:

I confess each and every one
of the negative actions I have done
with my body, speech, and mind
influenced by desire, hatred, and ignorance.

Depending on the cause (the three poisons) and by means of the three bases (body, speech, and mind), their nature is that I have done them (that is, that I have actually created them), I have made others create them, and I have rejoiced in those created by others, all of which is generally subsumed under “I have done”.

If through recollecting their faults you regret those done previously and sincerely confess them with the intention to abstain from them in the future, you stop the increase of deeds done in the past and stop committing them in the future.

Rejoicing is set forth in the stanza:

I rejoice in all the merit, whatever it may be,
of all the buddhas of the ten directions,
bodhisattvas, pratyekabuddhas, those with more to learn,
those with no more to learn, and all ordinary beings.

As you recall the benefits of the virtue of the five types of persons, you cultivate joy.

Requesting to turn the wheel of Dharma is set forth in the stanza:

I implore all the protectors,
lights of the world in the ten directions,
who have reached buddhahood, which is without attachment,
to turn the peerless wheel of the teaching.

Emanating the same number of bodies, you exhort those who have awoken to complete buddhahood in the fields of the ten directions – those who have found unobstructed exhalted knowledge free of attachment – to teach the Dharma as soon as possible.

Supplication is set forth in the stanza:

I supplicate, with palms joined in prayer,
those wishing to demonstrate their final nirvana:
please stay as many eons as there are atoms
to benefit and bring happiness to all beings

07/09/2022 The limb of dedication is set forth in the stanza:

Whatever little merit I have accumulated
by prostrating, offering, confessing,
rejoicing, requesting, and supplicating,
I dedicate it all to enlightenment.

All the roots of virtue represented by the previous six limbs are made the common property of all sentient beings and never come to an end, since they have been dedicated with strong aspiration as causes of complete enlightenment.

If you thus develop an understanding of the meaning of those words and slowly do as was taught without allowing your mind to wander, you will gather immeasurable heaps of merit.

Five of these limbs – prostrating, offering, requesting, supplication, and rejoicing – belong to the collection of accumulations. [30] Confessing purifies obstructions. One aspect of rejoicing, the cultivation of joy in one’s own virtue, multiplies the virtue.

By means of dedicating, the virtues of collecting, purifying, and multiplying, however small, are multiplied manifoldly, and what would normally come to an end after producing a temporary effect is made inexhaustible. In brief, there are the three: (1) accumulating, (2) purifying, and (3) multiplying and making inexhaustible.

Sixth, as for the final preparatory practice, with a clear visualisation of the objects, offer a mandala, and with strong aspiration, make numerous requests: “Please grant blessings that all erroneous attitudes such as disrespecting the spiritual teacher may cease and that all the non-erroneous attitudes toward the spiritual teacher may come about with ease.

I request blessings that all outer and inner obstacles be pacified”.




WHAT TO DO DURING THE ACTUAL MEDITATION SESSION

This has two points: how to practice meditation in general and how to practice this meditation in particular.


HOW TO PRACTICE MEDITATION IN GENERAL

Meditation on a path like the one explained below is to render the mind suitable for attending to a virtuous object just as one wishes. If you jump from object to object to sustain your interest or you pursue a variety of virtuous objects in no particular order, nothing will come of it, and having gone wrong from the beginning, your spiritual practice will continue to be faulty throughout your life.

Therefore you should first determine the number and order of objects to be attended to. Then you should unleash a strong resolve that does not permit the advent of thoughts that draw you away rom what has been ascertained. Finally you should sustain with mindfulness and vigilance what has been ascertained, without addition or omission.


HOW TO PRACTICE THIS MEDITATION IN PARTICULAR

First contemplate the benefits of reliance and the faults of non-reliance. Then repeatedly resolve to never permit your awareness to get caught up in conceiving faults in the guru, and instead recall the excellent qualities like ethics and concentration that you yourself have perceived in him. Cultivate the faith that has the aspect of mental clarity until it arises. Then contemplate, in accordance with the above quotations from the sutras, the instances of beneficial kindness that you have received and still receive, and from the depth of your heart, cultivate respect until it arises.  


WHAT TO DO AT THE END

By means of the Prayer of Good Conduct [31] and Aspiration in Seventy Verses (Pranidhanasaptati), the virtue accumulation should be dedicated with strong aspiration to the temporary and ultimate aims. You should meditate like this in four sessions – at dawn, in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening.

If your sessions are long in the beginning, it is easy to fall under the power of laxity and excitement. Since it is difficult to correct this state of mind once it has become a habit, you should have many short sessions. If you cut the session short when there is still desire to meditate, you will be drawn to entering meditation subsequently.

Otherwise, they say you will be overcome by nausea at the sight of your meditation seat. Once they have stabilised a bit, prolong the sessions while maintaining them all free from the faults of excessive tension or slackness. If you practice in this way, you will have few obstacles, and exhaustion, laxity, and lethargy will be pacified.


WHAT TO DO IN THE PERIODS BETWEEN SESSIONS

Generally speaking, numerous practices enhance the object between sessions, such as prostrations, circumambulation, and recitation. However, the main point is that if you make an effort in the session itself but then, during the intervals between sessions, you carelessly let go of the causes for maintaining your focus, by not relying on mindfulness and vigilance of the observed object along with its subjective aspect, the outcome will be very little.

Therefore, between sessions, you also need to read Dharma texts presenting that object and recall it again and again. Accumulate by various means the conditions that are favourable for the arising of excellent qualities, and purify by various means the adverse conditions, the obstructions. Your determination regarding the vows you have promised to uphold, the basis of everything, should be reaffirmed regularly.

Apart from that, train in the collection of the following four causes for an easy arising of the paths of samatha and special insight.


RESTRAINING THE SENSE DOORS

When the six consciousnesses arise in dependence upon objects and sense powers, attachment and anger end up arising in the mental consciousness toward the six pleasant and the six unpleasant objects. Restraining the sense doors guards against their arising.


ACTING WITH VIGILANCE

Entering the Bodhisattva Way (5.108) says:

To examine again and again
the situation of mind and body –
exactly that in brief
is what defines protecting vigilance.


Following this, whenever the body and so forth engage in such and such an action, through understanding whether or not it should be pursued, you behave accordingly.


KNOWING THE RIGHT MEASURE OF FOOD

Knowing the right measure of food means to give up eating too much or too little and to eat only the amount that does not damage your virtuous activities. Furthermore, having meditation upon the faults of craving food, remember what is said in the scriptures about eating, thinking that it should be without mental afflictions, [32] that is should benefit the giver, that while you now gather the microorganisms of your body by means of material things, in the future you will gather them by means of the Dharma, and that you will bring about the welfare of all sentient beings.

Letter to a Friend (Suhrllekha, v. 38) also says:

Reasoning that foodstuffs are like medicine,
depend on them without attachment or hatred.
They are not meant for you to be sated or haughty
or fat but just to keep your body going.



PRACTICING EARNESTLY WITHOUT SLEEPING AT THE WRONG TIME, AND BEHAVING WELL WHEN LYING DOWN TO SLEEP


Letter to a Friend (v.39) says:

Lord of the lineage, having practiced all day
and in the first and last periods of the night,
sleep with mindfulness between those periods,
so that even your sleeping is not wasted!

The actual sessions of both the entire day and during the first and last part of the night, as well as what should be done between them, have been explained. Whether walking about or seated, completely purify your mind of the five hindrances and thus make whatever you do meaningful.

The act of sleep takes place between sessions and therefore should also not be wasted with no benefit. The physical act consists in lying on your right side during the middle of the three periods of the night, placing the left leg atop the right one, and sleeping like a lion.

As for mindfulness, recollect, until you fall asleep, the predominant virtuous actions that you have cultivated during the day. Therefore, even while asleep, you can maintain whatever spiritual practice, such as concentration, you pursued when you were not asleep.

As for vigilance, if any mental affliction arises while you are cultivating mindfulness, become aware of it and eagerly eliminate it rather than accepting it.

The notion of getting up consists in projecting the thought “I will get up at this and that time”.

Apart from the unique aspects of each meditation during the actual yoga, these instructions on what should be done in preparation, during the actual meditation, at the end, and between sessions should be applied to every object and its aspects, from here up to special insight.


THE NEED TO EMPLOY TWO KINDS OF PRACTICE

[33] Ornament for the Mahayana Sutra says:

Here, first of all, proper mental attention arises in reliance upon study, and from proper mental attention, again, arises the wisdom with ultimate reality as its object.

That is to say, from proper mental attention, gained through the arising of wisdom reflecting on the meaning of what has been studied, a direct realisation of ultimate reality that comes from meditation arises. Ornament for Clear Knowledge (4.53) also says:

During the stages of definitive analysis
as well as paths of seeing and meditation,
one must repeatedly reflect, assess, and ascertain;
these are the paths of meditation.

That is to say, repeated reflection, evaluation, and definitive understanding are paths of meditation for Mahayana aryas.

The Compendium of Trainings (Siksasamuccaya) also says:

Thus you should meditate continuously on all
kinds of giving away, guarding, purifying, and
increasing your bodies, possessions, and merit.

With regards to the meditations that, according to the statement, should be done on the basis of each of the three (bodies, possessions, and roots of virtue) in connection with all four activities (giving away, guarding, purifying, and increasing), there are both kinds: analytical meditation, which is practiced by analysing with the wisdom of fine investigation, and placement meditation, in which the mind is placed single-pointedly without analysis.

Now what kind of path is analytical meditation and what kind of path is placement meditation? For meditations such as the cultivation of faith in the spiritual teacher, the preciousness of the freedoms and endowments and how difficult it is to find them, death and impermanence, actions and their effects, the faults of cyclic existence, and the cultivation of bodhicitta, analytical meditation is necessary.

Each of them required an awareness that has great strength and the ability to subdue the mind for a  long time, because if those are absent, their counterparts, disrespect and the like, cannot be prevented. Also, the generation of such an awareness depends on nothing but the meditation repeatedly analysing through fine investigation.

For example, just as intense attachment arises when you closely familiarise yourself with an object of attachment, exaggerating its pleasant features, so […] in the case of cultivating these paths, no matter whether the image of the object appears clearly, the mind’s way of apprehending it must be intense and long-lasting, and this requires analytical meditation.

In the context of practicing samatha, which enables you to place the mind on whatever object you wish, someone whose mind has been unable to stay on one object will not be able to generate samatha if he [she] keeps analysing, and placement meditation is required for that.

Some who do not understand this approach my claim that if you are a scholar, you should only do analytical meditation, while if you are a sadhu, you should only do placement meditation. But this is not correct because each of them needs to do both.

Scholars also need to achieve samatha, and sadhus also need to achieve strong faith in the spiritual teacher and the like. Therefore the idea that repeated analysis using the wisdom of fine investigation belongs to the context of study and reflection rather than to the context of practice is incorrect.

The notion that all thought involves apprehending signs and therefore creates obstacles to enlightenment has the fault of not differentiating between improper mental attention apprehending true existence, and proper attention thinking of reality.

The idea that you must achieve a nonconceptual concentration that allows you to place the mind on a single object as you wish, and that if you do a lot of analytical meditation beforehand it will prevent the arising of concentration, is contrary to the present instructions.

For example, a skilful goldsmith burns gold or silver in the fire and washes it in water again and again, removing all the impurities and making it very pliant, so that it can be made into whatever jewelry one wishes, such as earrings.

Likewise, at first you meditate on the afflictions, the secondary afflictions, nonvirtuous actions and their effects in the case of bad conduct, and the faults of cyclic existence, in the order in which they are presented.

By meditating with analytical wisdom on such faults again and again, you become completely downhearted or mentally dejected, like burning gold in fire, whereby you turn away from the non-virtuous side and clear away those defilements.

Next you meditate on the excellent qualities of the spiritual friend, the preciousness of the freedoms and endowments, [35] the excellent qualities of the Three Jewels, virtuous actions and their effects, the benefits of bodhicitta, and so on, in the order in which they are presented.

By meditating with the wisdom of fine investigation on such excellent qualities again and again, your mind becomes drenched with them, and you develop clarifying faith, like washing gold with water, whereby you turn toward the virtuous side and take delight in it.

Thus the mind is saturated with virtuous qualities. When it has been transformed in that way, whether you wish to achieve samatha or special insight, you will achieve it without difficulty when your mind is focused on it. That is why such an analytical meditation is the best means of achieving a nonconceptual concentration.

That is how Arya Asanga also put it:

For example, when a smith or his skilful apprentice burns gold or silver in a fire and washes it with water a couple of times in order to remove all impurities and stains, it becomes pliant and malleable for fashioning this or that ornament. Their method is clearly evident. So those with the appropriate mastery of a smith or skilful apprentice can then fashion whatever ornament they wish using a smith’s tools.

Likewise, a yogi ensures that his mind is not turned toward impurities and stains such as covetousness and cultivates disenchantment, delighting his mind by focusing not on the stresses of the afflicted mind but on the virtuous side instead.

That yogi doubtlessly trains his mind in either the side of samatha or the side of special insight, such that either it is closely applied to this and that or it is resting in its natural state, unmoving and unwavering. It can also be directed for the sake of perfectly achieving whatever purpose he has contemplated.


Furthermore, the main hindrance to the mind abiding on an object continuously is twofold: laxity and excitement. If you have a strong and constant awareness that sees the excellent qualities of the Three Jewels and so forth, it is quite easy to overcome laxity, for many valid sources say that its antidote [36] is to uplift the mind by looking at excellent qualities.

If you have a strong and constant awareness that sees the faults of impermanence, suffering, and so forth, it is quite easy to overcome excitement, for excitement is a distracted mind belonging to the category of attachment and may texts praise disenchantment as its antidote.




THE FREEDOMS AND ENDOWMENTS OF THIS LIFE


THE STAGES OF TRAINING THE MIND ONCE YOU HAVE RELIED ON A TEACHER

This has two points: first, an exhortation to take the essence of this life endowed with freedom, and second, the way to take its essence.


AN EXHORTATION TO TAKE THE ESSENCE OF THIS LIFE ENDOWED WITH FREEDOM

This has three points: identifying the freedoms and endowments, contemplating their great value, and contemplating the difficulty in finding them.


IDENTIFYING THE FREEDOMS AND ENDOWMENTS

This has two points: freedoms and endowments.


FREEDOMS

Verse Summary of the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamitasancayagatha, 32.2) says:

Through ethical discipline, the characteristics of the numerous animal births
and the eight unfree states are abandoned; thus you win constant freedom.

So the freedoms consist in freedom from the eight unfree states.

Among the eight unfree states, the four unfree states of humans are (1) living in a remote and savage land where the four types of followers of the Buddha do not go, (2) being stupid or dumb, and having incomplete faculties or missing body parts, such as ears and so forth, (3) holding wrong views that misconstrue past and future lives, actions and their effects, and the Three Jewels to be non-existent, and (4) being born where no buddha has appeared and therefore being bereft of his teachings.

The nonhuman unfree states are (1-3) those of a hell being, a hungry ghost, and an animal, and (4) that of a long-lived god. As for the long-lived gods, Commentary on Letter to a Friend (Vyaktapadasuhrllekatika) discusses two types: those without perception and those in the formless realm. The former abide in one region of the fourth dhyana, Great Result, as if in a hermitage far away from a village. The latter are ordinary beings born in the formless realms. Discourse on the Eight Unfree States (Astaksanakatha) explains long-lived gods to be gods of the desire realm who are constantly distracted by activities of desire.


ENDOWMENTS

This has two points, of which the five endowments pertaining to oneself are said [in Sravaka Levels] to be:

Being human, born somewhere central, with unimpaired faculties,
no inexpiable heinous actions, and faith in the source.

Here “born somewhere central” is to be born in a place where the four types of followers are active. “Unimpaired faculties” consists of not being stupid or dumb and having fully functioning body parts, eyes, ears, and so forth.

[37] “No inexpiable heinous actions” implies not having committed or caused others to commit an uninterrupted action. “Faith in the source” is to have faith in the foundation from which all the mundane and supramundane virtuous dharmas arise – discipline. Here discipline should be understood to encompass all three baskets of scripture.

As those five are brought together in one’s own mindstream and constitute circumstances for the accomplishment of the Dharma, they are called “endowments pertaining to oneself”.

The five endowments pertaining to others are said [in Sravaka Levels] to be:

The Buddha has come and taught the holy Dharma,
the teachings still remain and are being followed,
there’s loving-kindness and compassion for the sake of others.

Here “The buddha has come or arisen” means that after having accumulated the collections [of merit and wisdom] for three countless eons, he manifestly attained complete buddhahood. “Taught the holy Dharma” means that the Buddha or his disciples have taught the Dharma. “The teachings survive” means that from the Buddha coming and teaching the Dharma up to the moment of passing into nirvana, the Dharma attained through seeing the ultimate Dharma has not degenerated.

“The teachings survive and are being followed” means that through that very realisation of the Dharma, there are those who see that beings have the power to directly perceive the hold Dharma and who then follow the teachings in accordance with that realisation.

“There is loving-kindness and compassion for the sake of others”. Means that there are donors and benefactors who provide monastic robes and the like. As these five are present in the mindstreams of others and constitute conditions for accomplishing the Dharma, they are called “endowments pertaining to others”.


CONTEMPLATING THEIR GREAT VALUE

If you engage in no practice of pure Dharma at all for the sake of lasting happiness but strive your entire life merely to eliminate your suffering and attain happiness, then you are like an animal despite your fortunate rebirth since animals do the same.

You need a physical basis like the one described above in order to practice the Mahayana path. Letter to a Student (Sisyalekha, v. 64) says:

The base of the path of those gone to bliss, the tool for leading beings,
is that most powerful mind (bodhicitta), which is gained by human beings.
That path is not found by gods or nagas, not by asuras,
not be garudas, knowledge holders, kinnaras, or uragas.

Some gods of the desire realm, with strong predispositions from having previously trained in the path as a human, are suitable as a support for seeing the truth for the first time. But it is impossible to attain the arya path for the first time on the basis of birth in a realm above that. However, as explained above, the majority of desire-realm gods [38] lack the requisite freedom, so they cannot attain the path for the first time.

Again, inhabitants of the continent of Uttarakuru are unsuitable as a support for vows, which is why those beings of the other three continents are praised; and among them, the inhabitants of Jambudvipa are especially praised.

“Having gained such an excellent basis as this, why would I not make it fruitful? If I do not make it meaningful, could there be any greater self-deception or stupidity?
Having passed over and over through the many perilous places that lack freedom such as the lower rebirths, were I to render this unique opportunity for liberation meaningless and go back to those places, I would have lost my mind, as though confused by a magic spell”.

Thinking in this way, meditate again and again. Entering the Bodhisattva Way (1.3) says:

Having found this kind of freedom,
if I do not cultivate virtue,
then no deception could be greater;
nothing could be more confused than that.

And (1.6-7)

Having found, by chance, this place,
so beneficial and hard to find,
were I now, with understanding,
to be led away to that hell once again,

as though confused by magic spells,
I will have utterly lost my mind.
Even I do not know what so confused me.
What is it dwelling deep within me?

In that way, think how this physical basis is highly meaningful, not only in terms of the final goal but even temporarily. For with it one can easily accomplish generosity, morality, patience, and so on, the causes of an excellent body, wealth, and all that accompanies a higher status. If with this very meaningful physical basis you do not apply yourself day and night to developing the causes of the two objectives, it would be like returning empty-handed from an island of precious jewels.


CONTEMPLATING THE DIFFICULTY IN FINDING THEM

Chapters of Scriptural Transmission (Agamavastu) says that beings who die and migrate to the lower rebirths, whether from lower or fortunate rebirths, are like the dust of the great earth, while beings who are born in the fortunate rebirths, which are difficult to obtain whether migrating from lower of fortunate rebirths, are like the dust taken up with the tip of a fingernail. [39] If you wonder just why they are so difficult to find, Four Hundred Stanzas (7.6) says:

For the most part, human beings
cling to the side that is unholy.
Therefore, generally, ordinary beings
surely go to the lower rebirths.

Most humans and other beings typically hold on to the side of the ten non-virtuous, and consequently they go to the lower rebirths. Furthermore, if you have to spend an eon in the hell of Avici for each moment of anger toward a bodhisattva and so on, then the bad actions accumulated over many lifetimes, which have neither come to fruition nor been overcome by antidotes, and are present in your own mindstream, will surely cause you to spend many eons in the lower rebirths.

If you definitely purify the causes of lower rebirths accumulated previously and close the door to newly engaging in them, then the fortunate rebirths will not be hard to reach; however, that that is very rarely done. If you fail to do so, you go to the lower rebirths; and once you have gone to the lower rebirths, you do not create virtue but continuously commit bad deeds, whereby, as stated in Entering the Bodhisattva Way, you do not even hear the name of fortunate rebirths for many eons.

Potowa said:

As stated here, you meditate to develop this kind of attitude.

Four states of mind regarding the Dharma are necessary to generate a fully qualified wish to take the essence of this life endowed with freedom:

1. That you need to accomplish the Dharma – because all sentient beings only want happiness and do not want suffering, and accomplishing happiness and eliminating suffering depends solely on the holy Dharma.
2. That you are able to accomplish the Dharma – because you have the external condition, a spiritual teacher, and the internal condition, the freedoms and endowments. [40]
3. That you need to accomplish the Dharma in this very life – because if you do accomplish it within this life, it will be difficult to obtain the freedoms and endowments for many lives to come.
4. That you need to accomplish the Dharma right now – because the time of death is uncertain.

The third stops laziness of dismissing it, thinking, “I should practice the Dharma in later lives,” and the fourth counteracts the laziness of not entering into it, thinking, “Although I must accomplish it in this life, it is enough to accomplish it later on and not in these immediate years, months, and days”. You can also make these points three, subsuming the last two under the thought “I need to accomplish it soon”. Remembering death can also be linked in here, since that is a length topic, it will be explained below.

The mind becomes more subdued if you contemplate the topic from various points of view, so you should contemplate in the way explained above. If you cannot manage this much, then subsume those topics under these [three] points:
what the nature of this life of freedoms and endowments is,
how it is so meaningful in terms of temporary and final goals,
and how difficult it is obtain from the point of view of cause and result.

You should take up each of the points explained above in a way that suits you and meditate on them.

Contemplate the difficulty in obtaining the freedoms and endowments from the point of view of the causes. Generally speaking, even to attain a mere fortunate rebirth, you need to cultivate one of the pure virtues such as ethics.

In particular, to attain the complete freedoms and endowments, you need to cultivate many roots of virtue such as upholding a foundation with pure ethics, reinforcing it through generosity and so on, and maintain a connection by means of stainless prayers.

Those who accomplish such causes appear to be very few. Therefore, having weighted this up, contemplate how difficult it is, in general and in particular, to obtain, to obtain the result that is the physical basis of a fortunate rebirth.

Contemplate the difficulty in obtaining the freedoms and endowments from the point of view of the result. Meditate on the fact that, compared to the beings in the lower rebirths different in kind from us, even a mere fortunate rebirth seems beyond the limits of possibility; and compared to the beings in the fortunate rebirths the same in kind as us, those endowed with the fully qualified freedoms are extremely rare. Geshe Dolpa laid great emphasis on this. He said that all other Dharma is brought forth by this understanding. As this is so, you should make an effort accordingly.



(Continued on Lamrim Chenmo (3) page of this website)