Having covered the common preliminary meditations which form the basis for all further Dharma practice in previous sessions, on Sunday [Day 7] the section on the actual practice of arousing bodhichitta began.
The text explains that you should develop aspirational bodhichitta then take the Bodhisattva vows with engaged bodhichitta. But first come detailed instructions on several meditations to prepare the mind. The whole text is an extended Guru Yoga, and, thus, at each stage there is a supplication to the Guru for his blessings in order to accomplish the practice.
Initially, so that your being becomes more malleable, you practise shamatha meditation in an isolated place and develop meditative stabilisation. Meditating on the breath, you begin by counting from 1-10 breaths, and then step by step increase until you can focus perfectly on 1-100 breaths. As a result, the mind becomes peaceful and tame, and you naturally engage in virtue without effort.
The next section, eliminating conceptual fabrications, you look directly at your mind, and rest simply. This is followed by the contemplation that all phenomena are like dreams in order to realise that appearance and emptiness are not contradictory. Next is a section on analysing the nature of unborn awareness. Then comes a section on looking at the mind with the mind, and a further section on practising through meditation, followed by a section on eliminating the mental factors: whatever we see or think, we just rest without changing anything.
“Just as clouds and mist arise in the sky and dissolve into the sky, all the appearances of thought, subject and object come from the dharma expanse and dissolve into the dharma expanse.”
There is then a meditation on resting in the essence of the paths and grounds.
Whatever we are doing, we should never lose the feeling of meditation. Do not grasp at what appears as true but recognise that it is like an appearance in a dream. Keep the precepts. Avoid downfalls. Engage in the ten dharma practices, and offer everything to the Three Jewels.
Now the instructions on generating bodhichitta begin. First, you should meditate on compassion for those it is easy to feel compassion for, beginning with the kindness of your mother in this life, who has made it possible for you to follow the path of liberation. But imagine that this mother, when she dies, will fall into the lower realms. How can you help her?
In the next stage of the meditation, the compassion you feel for your mother is extended to all sentient beings because they have also been your mother at some time. Now, they are about to fall into the lower realms. The text states your compassion should be “like an armless mother whose child is being carried away in a flood”. At this point, you should determine to stay in samsara for as long as it takes to benefit all your mother sentient beings. As the only hope for them is the Three Jewels, imagine that you have the wisdom and compassion and the ability to protect them. Then devote yourself entirely to the Gurus because they know what to do to benefit your mother sentient beings. Consider the sufferings of all these sentient beings and how difficult it is to repay their kindness. Supplicate the Gurus. Expand your compassion further. Think of the billions of universes, the innumerable beings who inhabit them, all of whom have been your mother. Meditate on them with unbearable compassion.
Next this unbearable compassion has to be extended to those whom you regard as your enemy or towards whom you feel aversion. These beings have also been our parents and friends in previous lives, but moving from life to life, we have forgotten. Especially develop unbearable compassion for them too. Think in this way: if I return their harm with help, it will cancel out the karmic debt between us.
The subsequent meditations use physical postures and supplications to the gurus and yidam deities to enhance our compassion.
[Day8] The next section of the text contains instructions on different meditations which can be used to generate loving kindness, the wish that all beings be happy and have the causes for happiness, and follows a similar pattern to the advice on developing compassion.
First we consider the mother of this life and how we could not bear to see her suffering. We wish an end to her suffering and want her to be happy. Having generated loving kindness for her, we then extend this to all other mother sentient beings, imagining especially how because they are ignorant of the law of karma cause and effect, they experience intolerable suffering. We then extend this further to include all those us regard as enemies.
The next section begins the actual practice of bodhichitta, taking the suffering of all other sentient beings upon you. It combines a Guru Yoga practice with tonglen, giving your happiness to others and taking on their suffering.
First we reflect how we have committed many misdeeds from beginningless time, under the power of the three poisons, and pray that the karma caused may ripen on us, but, in addition we pray that we may take on the suffering incurred through the ripening of the karma of all other sentient beings. We vow, “I will take upon myself the burden of the suffering of all sentient beings.”
The instruction tells us to visualise the Guru Yoga, consider your kind mothers and practice tonglen for them. Then dedicate the merit to mother sentient beings and imagine that they achieve Buddhahood.
The section ends with a summary of the whole practice: meditate on the four preliminaries, supplicate the guru, exchange self for others, and rest in non-conceptual equipoise.
Preparations for the conference
In addition to the transmission of One Hundred Short Instructions, His Holiness gave the oral transmission of Gampopa’s Jewel Ornament of Liberation up to the chapter on The Spiritual Friend.
He also spoke to the monks about the extensive preparations for the conference on The Jewel Ornament of Liberation. The Gyalwang Karmapa talked of the research that had been undertaken in order to establish an authentic text. A group of Khenpos had studied the texts of the different editions and the citations. They also consulted with Geshe Lharampas from Gyuto Monastery, and even His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Masters from other Kagyu lineages have been invited to the conference. The aim is for the conference to become an ornament for the teachings. The purpose of the conference is for the sake of the teachings and bringing happiness to all sentient beings.
Prior to the Monday session, His Holiness held a private meeting with the Gunchö Khenpos and those monks who had completed their shedra studies to talk about Tantra.