Daily Meditation Practice Advice

From Khenpo Sherab Sangpo

Motivation and conduct are the foundation for the practice of the Dharma. As everything is included in those two principles, they are extremely important to contemplate. First, let your body, speech, and mind be at ease, and then think of what it means to have achieved this precious human body, this extraordinary support for meditation practice. Contemplate its significance and profound value. Reflect upon that as a decent person one cannot live with just one’s own personal benefit in mind. Instead we must by all means be able to help and to provide for others. It is necessary that we develop this kind of altruistic outlook.

Next, in order to make our body, speech, and mind workable, we assume the seven-fold posture of Vairochana. It is important that we sit erect with a straight spine, for when the body is balanced well, the flow of prāṇa is balanced. And when the prāṇa is in balance, so is the mind.

As a key point of speech, expel the stale breath. With your left thumb, apply pressure on the channel that runs along your ring finger, and so place your left hand on your left thigh. Close your right nostril with your right pointing finger and inhale through your left nostril, pressing the breath downward.

As you exhale, think that all evil and obscurations that you have created since time without beginning now leaves you in the form a black wind. Repeat this three times, and then shift to breathing in through your right nostril, while having your right hand on your thigh and closing your left nostril in the same way as before. Again, repeat this procedure three times. Finally, place both of your hands on your thighs while your thumbs press on your ring fingers. Inhale and exhale three times in the same way as before. This nine-fold expelling of the stale breath is an important method of purification. It is as if we were washing a vessel. The key point of the mind is to engender an altruistic intent. We do this by wishing that whatever goodness, subtle or great, that may arise through our practice, may become the cause of happiness and wellbeing for all sentient beings, both temporarily and ultimately.

This is the motivation of a great individual called bodhicitta. Having given rise to that, we practice to the best of our capacity, beginning with the foundation for the entire path by going for refuge. After that we may continue with mind training, the preliminaries, or another practice. At the end of the session it is important that we dedicate all virtuous factors toward enlightenment.

Sometimes we may also want to go to a sacred place were there are representations of the Three Jewels. With a pure intention, we give rise to bodhicitta and offer prostrations. Having taken refuge and engendered the enlightened outlook, we then, relying on the four powers, recite the 100-syllable mantra (or alternatively the concise mantra) of the single embodiment of all the victors, the glorious guru Vajrasattva. The length of the practice session is up to ourselves. At the end of the session, we must make sure to dedicate all virtue towards in enlightenment. We can then proceed with whatever activities we have planned for the day.

In short, the moment we wake up we should commit ourselves to practice by thinking, Whatever I do today, I will make sure that it is in accord with the sacred Dharma. When the day is over and we lay down to sleep, we should then examine what we did during the day. When we have acted in accord with the Dharma we should acknowledge and appreciate that. When this was not the case, we regret it and confess our shortcomings.

In short, whether we practice the Dharma depends on ourselves. We are free to make our own choices. But if we do practice, it is important that we practice with a pure motivation. The Dharma is like a mirror in which a reflection of ourselves appears. With the help of the mirror of the Dharma, we can become aware of our own mistakes, and so succeed in correcting them.

Offered on September 28, 2008.

Khenpo Sherab Sangpo

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