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How to Meditate on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment

A Teaching With Special Emphasis onThe Methods of an Experiential

Instruction,Expressed Openly And in Plain Wordsas if Pointing With a
Finger toEach Element of Practice
In response to a written request from Dragom Choktrul Rinpoche of the
Shodo Monastery in Kham, the incomparably benecent, glorious and
kindhearted one, the Supreme Sa!ior Dor"echang #abongkapa Dechen
$yingpo, composed the following work une%pectedly and at a time when
he was e%tremely busy and faced with many responsibilities& 'hat is
included here are the instructions on how to gain the reali(ations from
Relying on a Spiritual )riend through Refuge&
I pray that my mind and those of all lineage disciples*ecome steeped in
dharma through the po+er and ,lessingsOf the father, &ama &osang
Tu,+ang (or-echang,And those of his lineage of spiritual sons.
%a/ing found a form that is /alua,le and hard to 0nd,And ha/ing
percei/ed the eight +orldly dharmas1 to ,e the play of fools,Those friends
+ho stri/e single2mindedly in their pursuit of an ultimate goal are
mar/elous indeed3
When +e are proud of our +ide learning, our e4orts at teaching and
studying,And +e are e/en sure that +e could explain a hundred scriptures,
Though our minds ha/e not impro/ed the least ,it spiritually, It is ,ecause
+e lac5 the analytic meditation that com,ines understanding +ith
experience. A mere sem,lance of listening, study, and understanding $an
generate ,oth strong faith and listening +isdom6 a,out the topics of
leisure and fortune, Impermanence, a/ersion,7 and so on8 ,ut they ha/e
not arisen through analytic meditation. Such +isdom is nothing more than
right -udgment9 and so e/entually it fades a+ay.
'ou run a ris5 ,y failing to generate soon after this +isdomThe genuine
experience that comes from re:ection. Many persons ,ecome insensiti/e
to dharma; +hen they allo+The former a+areness to fade a+ay ,efore
they can generate the latter.<
Once you are o/ercome ,y insensiti/ity to dharma, your mind stream
*ecomes ruined and you are incapa,le of ,eing tamed,E/en ,y the &am2
rim or the ,lessed +ords of your guru.So apply yourself to the profound
method for a/oiding insensiti/ity to dharma.
This is achie/ed through the ,lessings of your guru=s speech, Along +ith
your o+n e4orts to listen to dharma properly.So, ho+e/er much
understanding you gain through hearing dharma, it=s /italTo generate
soon after+ard the understanding +hich comes from re:ection.
%o+, then, do you generate the understanding +hich comes from
re:ection>Analytic meditation is the exercise of eliciting experiential
reali?ations*y contemplating a particular meditation topic from e/ery
standpointAnd in e/ery +ay, using scriptural citations and sharp
For instance, if you set forth as the o,-ect to ,e esta,lished that your guru
is a *uddha,Ad/ance again and again those cogent arguments that +ill
pro/e he is a *uddha8For this is the means of eliciting the con/iction that
he is a *uddha. Practicing this strenuously and repeatedly is +hat +e refer
to as analytic meditation.
Indeed, the primary aim for all the meditation topics@such as leisure and
fortune, Impermanence, renunciation, generating enlightenment mind,
and the correct /ie+@ Is to elicit sure understandings of them ,y
engaging in sharp analytic meditation.
E/en though this analysis only ,rings you the 0rst elementsOf the
experiential a+areness that deri/es from re:ection,'ou +ill ne/er ,e
o/ercome ,y insensiti/ity to dharmaAnd you +ill ha/e 0rmly planted the
roots of your spiritual experience.So train yourself s5illfully in the +ays of
analytic meditation.
Moreo/er, analytic meditation is a uniAue Auality of our system.It is not
recogni?ed e/en partially in any tradition that standsOutside the range of
our Bamgon &ama=sC enlightened speech.
The need for analytic meditation, ho+ to practice it, and so onAre taught
in the *reat Stages of the #ath to +nlightenment D,am-rim Chen-moE.*y
careful study and re:ection on these points you=ll reali?eThat they
represent an extraordinary Auality of our teaching system.
To merely re/ie+ a series of topics in your mind is re:ecti/e meditation8F
This is not +hat +e call culti/ating analytic meditation.!either is it
analytic meditation to memori?e the +ords of a teachingAnd then
rehearse their meaning in your mind.
To memori?e the essence of e/ery one of the path=s stages, as +ell as
their order, num,er, and so on,And then to recall each essence, order, and
num,er indi/iduallyIs also -ust re:ecti/e mediation, not analytic
Therefore, as I said earlier, analytic meditation consists ofSetting forth a
single topic as the o,-ect to ,e esta,lished,And then repeatedly analy?ing
it +ith scripture and profound reasoningAs the means of generating a sure
For instance, +hen +e re:ect again and again on the reasonsWhy +e
thin5 that a particular o,-ect is attracti/e,We de/elop strong desire. This is
Ganalytic meditationH to+ardAn o,-ect of attachment, and it increases our
acti/e desire.
&i5e+ise, +hen +e recall again and again ho+ a terri,le enemy%as
harmed us, our hatred greatly increases.This represents analysis to+ard
an o,-ect of hatred,And it ignites our Gexperiential a+arenessH of hatred.
&et=s shift no+ to the spiritual domain, +here the aim is to increaseAn
experiential a+areness of di4erent /irtuous minds ,y repeatedly
contemplating The /arious reasons that +ill elicit them, as I -ust descri,ed
+ith desire and hatred.
What you must do here is contemplate o/er and o/er againThe most
penetrating of scriptural citations and arguments,And in particular those
arguments +hich are the most e4ecti/eFor eliciting a spiritual
transformation +ithin your mind.
If the repeated contemplation of -ust a single argumentE/o5es a sense of
e/er2gro+ing anguish in your mind,Such as you might feel on hearing of
your mother=s death,This is a sign that you are succeeding8 so continue
*ut if repeated contemplation of a single argument gro+s staleAnd your
mind remains unmo/ed, this means your practice is not succeeding.It=s
also a fore+arning against ,ecoming insensiti/e to dharma.So com,ine
supplications to your guru +ith fer/ent acts that accumulate meritAnd
remo/e o,stacles.I Then try again to culti/ate the meditation topics
Some persons at this point1J de/elop sudden and po+erful feelings of
faith,Impermanence, renunciation, and so on, e/en +ithout ha/ing
practiced meditation.They ,ecome -oyously enthusiastic, thin5ing these
are true spiritual reali?ations.*ut soon after, +hen the intensity of such
feelings completely disappears,We see that they ,ecome saddened at the
loss of these sentiments.%o+e/er, these are nothing ,ut limited
sensations that arise on the ,asisOf transitory perceptions8 they aren=t
true spiritual reali?ations.There is no need +hatsoe/er for you to ,ecome
proudWhen such feelings arise or ,ecome de-ected +hen they fade.Still,
,ecause they are a sign that you ha/e recei/ed ,lessingsFrom your guru
and tutelary deity, you should stri/e to ma5e them 0rm.
True reali?ations are the experiential a+arenesses of faith, impermanence,
and so on, Which come forth in succession after meditating continuously
+ith +isdom=s discerning po+er. These represent inferential 5no+ledge
and, unli5e the feelings mentioned earlier, they ne/er fade a+ay.
Moreo/er, you must learn the s5illful techniAue for eliciting reali?ations.
*egin ,y meditating on all the points contained in the indi/idual topics,
From ser/ing a spiritual teacher to generating enlightenment mind.(o so
-ust long enough to ,ecome pro0cient in each of them. Then meditate
again on ser/ing a spiritual teacher up through generatingEnlightenment
mind, in order to elicit contri/ed experiential reali?ations.Then do the
same again, in order to elicit uncontri/ed experiential reali?ations.
When you ha/e ,ecome familiar +ith these topics to the point of feeling
sureThat you 5no+ ho+ to meditate on them and that you are a,le to
generate the reali?ations, +e call this ,ecoming pro0cient.
A spiritual a+areness +hich arises after continuous re:ectionOn many
scriptural citations and reasonings, ,ut +hich fails to ariseWithout such
re:ection, is called a contri/ed experiential reali?ation.
An uncontri/ed experiential reali?ation is one +hich arises distinctly,As
soon as you ,ring a su,-ect to mind and irrespecti/eOf any prolonged
re:ection, li5e the desire for sense o,-ectsThat arises in your mind +ithout
any need of prolonged contemplation.
When understanding and experience com,ine thus in your mind,This
mar5s the 0rst da+ning of spiritual reali?ation.Moreo/er, for some
meditation topics the reali?ations arise easily8They can ,e generated e/en
after practicing for only se/en days or so.For other topics, the reali?ations
arise after se/eral days or +ee5s.For still others, they are diKcult to
generate e/en after a year or more.
For instance, it=s easy to reali?e the certainty of death8 *ut the uncertainty
of the time of death is /ery hard to reali?e.It=s extremely easy to reali?e
ho+ nothing except dharma can helpAt the time of death. Such
di4erences hold true for the other topics as +ell.
Therefore, don=t continue meditating o,stinately on those topicsFor +hich
reali?ations come easily8 instead, mo/e on to the next point.&i5e+ise,
don=t thin5 that the topics +hich are diKcult to reali?eAre ta5ing too long.
!o matter ho+ long they ta5e, e/en months or years,$ontinue meditating
until you generate the appropriate reali?ations.
Finally, you need only practice re:ecti/e meditation to+ardThose earlier
topics +hich you ha/e already masteredAnd those later ones for +hich
you ha/e yet to gain reali?ations.So focus single2mindedly as you analy?e
and contemplate the one topic you are currently practicing.
!o+ that I=/e instructed you on ho+ to carry out properlyThe 5ey
elements in/ol/ed in practicing analytic meditation,What is the 0rst topic
to +hich you should apply analytic meditationAnd ho+ should you apply
analytic meditation to it>
Analytic meditation need not ,e applied to the three introductory topics,11
The preliminary practices,16 and so on. Therefore, the practiceOf analytic
meditation should ,egin +ith the topic of ho+ to ser/e a spiritual teacher.
If you contemplate s5illfully for a,out se/en days the ,ene0tsOf ser/ing a
teacher and for a,out se/en days also the faultsOf failing to ser/e a
teacher, you +ill produce a mental transformation.17
The next topic is the root practice of culti/ating faith,Which is extremely
important ,ut also diKcult to reali?e.'et no matter ho+ many months or
years it ta5es to complete,(on=t thin5 that it=s ta5ing too long. Practice it
one2pointedly#ntil you succeed in eliciting a mental transformation.
Moreo/er, if you contemplate too many points during a single period,'our
practice +ill ,ecome re:ecti/e meditation, not analytic meditation.
Therefore, during each period contemplate -ust one topic.For instance,
ma5e the topic GLa-radhara aKrmed that our guru is a *uddhaH@The 0rst
of the four in this section19@the only one you +ish to /erify.Then, +ith
scripture and sharp reasonings as proof, apply yourself and contemplate
This /ery topic for the entire period until you generate a sure
Bust as on the 0rst day, culti/ate this topic the next day and the next day
after that.$ulti/ate it for a month and for a second month as +ell.$ontinue
practicing this +ay until you elicit the true experiential a+areness.When
the experiential a+areness emerges, s+itch to the next topic.
After you ha/e reali?ed a topic, contemplate it +ith re:ecti/e meditation
alone. %o+e/er, don=t mo/e on to a later topic ,efore you ha/e gained
reali?ations of those +hich precede it8 The later topics cannot ,e reali?ed
,efore the earlier ones.Therefore, stri/e /igorously to elicit a reali?ation of
the initial topic.1;After eliciting an experiential reali?ation of this topic,
#nderta5e to practice in a similar +ay the second one@That a guru is the
agent for all the *uddhas= acti/ities.
After gaining a reali?ation of that topic, go to the next one@That e/en
no+adays all *uddhas act on ,ehalf of sentient ,eings.Meditate ,y
applying the intense analysis of scripture, reasoning, and your guru=s
instruction.Bust as you culti/ate this topic the 0rst day, continue doing so
The next day and the one after that@for days, months, or e/en years#ntil
you succeed in eliciting the proper experiential reali?ation.
'ou must ,ring forth the reali?ation +hich percei/es that your guruIs truly
a *uddha. And since this /ery topic is much more crucialThan all the
others, de/ote yourself to it +ith great e4ort.
After gaining this reali?ation, then go to the next topic, The one that is
called GOur perceptions are unrelia,le.H $ulti/ate it ,y intensely applying
the techniAue of analytic meditation.When you ha/e practiced this +ay
and truly percei/e That your guru em,odies the actual nature of all the
*uddhas,And +hen all the *uddhas and your guru appear to merge as
one,'ou ha/e generated the reali?ation that relates to ser/ing a spiritual
Once you ha/e elicited reali?ations of the four points that comprise GThe
root practice of culti/ating faith,H then also generate successi/e
reali?ationsOf the four that comprise Grecalling the spiritual teacher=s
5indness.H 'ou should ,rie:y contemplate as +ell the topic of pleasing
your guru through action.
After properly gaining, in the manner descri,ed, the spiritual reali?ations
That relate to generating faith and respect to+ard your spiritual teacher,
'ou should set out to elicit in succession the reali?ations for the topics
"anging from leisure and fortune to generating precious enlightenment
%o+e/er, the reali?ations that relate to ser/ing a spiritual teacher,In +hich
you culti/ate a faith +hich percei/es your guru as a *uddha,Are diKcult to
generate +ithout practicing for months or e/en years.Therefore, carry out
this extraordinary meditation instruction,So that you can ma5e progress
Auic5ly in gaining experiential reali?ations.
(e/ote one period of each day to the su,-ect of ser/ing a spiritual
teacher.Meditate on the topics in the manner that +as descri,ed a,o/e.
(e/ote one period to eliciting reali?ations of those topics ,eginning +ith
&eisure and fortune, ,y analy?ing them according to the esta,lished order.
First, this +ill further your reali?ations a,out ser/ing a teacher.Second,
through gradually impro/ing your understanding of the topicsThat relate
to persons of lesser and moderate capacity@!amely, leisure and fortune,
impermanence, su4ering, and so on@These lesser and moderate
reali?ations +ill reach an ad/anced le/el*y the time you complete the
su,-ect of ser/ing a spiritual teacher.
And if you also pursue the 0rst stages of analy?ing the correct /ie+,1<'ou
+ill ma5e s+ift progress, simultaneously de/eloping and completing
Experiential reali?ations of the three principal elements of the path.1CFor
instance, if you plant +alnut, peach, and grape seeds together,Their
trun5s and ,ranches and :o+ers +ill de/elop simultaneouslyAnd you can
en-oy the fruit of all three at the same time.
Therefore, di/ide each day=s meditation periods into three parts.(uring
one part, meditate only on ser/ing your spiritual teacher8(uring one part
elicit successi/ely the reali?ations for the topics"anging from leisure and
fortune to precious enlightenment mind8And during one part apply
analytic meditation to the profound /ie+.
So +hen you di/ide your meditation into these three periods,The +ay to
contemplate ser/ing a spiritual teacher is as I explained ,efore.And the
+ay to gain the reali?ations starting +ith leisure and fortune Is 0rst to
identify +hat the essence of leisure and fortune is.
"e:ect on +hat it +ould ,e li5e if you had ,een ,orn into any of the
inopportune conditions1FAnd ho+ fortunate you are not to ha/e ,een ,orn
there in this life. (on=t consider the Aualities of leisure and fortune in a
shallo+ or detached manner8"e:ect again and again, applying sharp
analytic meditationSo that you +ill im,ue yourself +ith a deep a+areness
of ho+ you currently possess them all.When you are o/ercome +ith -oy,
li5e a pauper +ho has found a treasure,Then you ha/e generated the
reali?ation of identifying leisure and fortune.
!ext s+itch to the topic of /ie+ing leisure and fortune as ha/ing great
/alue,And repeatedly scrutini?e it +ith the su,tle analysis of scripture and
reasoning.'ou +ill ha/e reali?ed the great /alue of leisure and fortune
When you ,ecome distressed if e/en an instant of time is /ainly spent.
Then go on to the next meditation topic, the diKculty of 0nding&eisure
and fortune, and re:ect on it +ith po+erful analytic meditation.When you
,ecome as upset a,out ,eing idle for e/en an instantAs another person
+ould if he spilled a ,ag of gold dust into a ri/er,Then you ha/e reali?ed
the diKculty of 0nding leisure and fortune.
Turn no+ to the meditation topics that relate to impermanence.'ou are
sure to de/elop mental transformations ,y 0rst meditatingFor a,out a
+ee5 on the six disad/antages of failing to recall deathAnd then for
another +ee5 or so on the six ad/antages of recalling death.
After that, practice the three reasons that death is certain.The 0rst reason
is that the &ord of (eath is certain to appearAnd cannot ,e turned ,ac5 ,y
any means. With great determination,Apply analytic meditation to this
topic no matter ho+ many days or months it ta5es.
After achie/ing that experiential a+areness, the next topic to /erifyIs that
your life span does not increase and is constantly gro+ing shorter.
$ulti/ate it ,y practicing analytic meditation forcefully.
After achie/ing that experiential a+areness, apply analytic meditationTo
the next topic@that there is little opportunityTo practice dharma e/en
during the time you remain ali/e.
*ut the truly extraordinary and uneAualed instruction for recalling death Is
contained in the topic called GMeditating on the nature of death.H1I
Through it, recollection of impermanence can ,e generated easily. In the
outline that gi/es the order in +hich to present the teachings, This topic is
placed after the set of nine points6J for meditating on death. *ut a 5ey
instruction for ho+ to put the teachings into practice is that you should
meditate on it here.61
So +hen you=/e used the three reasons to determine that death is certain,
$onsider +hat the /arious stages in the dying process +ill ,e li5e. *y
meditating on this, you +ill feel a sense of o/er+helming terror.
When you contemplate again and again the experiences that +ill ,efall
you,Applying analytic meditation to the meanings contained in +ritings
&i5e the one that I composed urging recollection of impermanence,66'ou
+ill ,e so dismayed that you cannot stay on your meditation seat.
If after meditating in this +ay you feel great terror,As though you +ere
experiencing your actual death no+,And if your re:ection on the stages of
death is so /i/idThat they seem real and cause your heart to -ump
suddenly in fear,This is the measure that you ha/e reali?ed the certainty
of death.
After that, practice analytic meditation +ith total concentration, Applying
it to the sole topic that your life span is uncertain@The 0rst reason67 in
the root category called GThe uncertainty of the time of death.HThere is no
certainty that your death +ill not come this /ery moment.'ou should
contemplate this fact ,y applying analytic meditationFrom e/ery
standpoint and in e/ery +ay.
%ere is a 5ey instruction that is ,oth secret and profound,A,out ho+ to
recollect that the time of death is uncertain.'ou see and hear directly
a,out the uncertainty of other persons= li/es.(eath stri5es ,y means of
many causes, suddenly and unexpectedly.Some persons die +hile they are
+al5ing.Some die +hile they are eating, others +hile tal5ing.Some
persons die +hile laughing, others +hile they are running.Some +ho are
strong and agile die performing athletic feats.One moment they are
persons8 the next they are corpses.One moment they are ali/e8 the next
they are gone.As you contemplate again and again the nature of these
occurrences,Analy?e yourself as +ell, using sharp reasonings such as
theseGI ha/e exactly the same nature as these persons.HG%o+ can I ,e
sure that I +on=t die this /ery moment>HG%o+ can I ,e sure that I +on=t ,e
a corpse this /ery night>HG%o+ can I ,e sure my funeral rites +on=t ,e
performed tonight>HG%o+ can I ,e sure I +on=t ,e laid to rest in a
cemetery tonight>H'ou +ill generate the proper reali?ation ,y recalling
That you can ne/er ,e sure +hen 'ama, The &ord of (eath,Will grip you in
his -a+s and then crush you +ith his fangs."ecall ho+ you are loc5ed in
the throes of ,attle +ith this arch enemyAnd that you can=t ,e sure he
+on=t 5ill you right no+.
After that, meditate on the next topic, ho+ the factors that ,ring death
Are many +hile the factors that sustain life are fe+.After gaining this
experiential a+areness, go on to the next reasonAnd apply analytic
meditation intensely to the topic +hich addresses%o+ your ,ody and life
force are as fragile as a +ater ,u,,le.
When you ha/e forcefully applied these techniAues for contemplatingThe
three reasons that relate to the uncertainty of the time of death,'ou=ll
thin5. GI can=t ,e sure I +on=t die this /ery minute.HAs you lie do+n, you=ll
+onder, GWill I +a5e up tomorro+ morning>HWhen you get up, you=ll
+onder, GWill I go to ,ed tonight>HWhile going some+here, you=ll +onder,
GWill I come home again>HAs you return, you=ll +onder, GWill I e/er go
,ac5 there again>H'ou=ll +onder, GWhich +ill come 0rst, tomorro+ or my
next life>HGWill death arri/e ,efore I can 0nish eating my ,ag of
tsamba69>H GWhich +ill come 0rst, the end of this pot of tea or death>H
'ou=ll thin5, GThere=s no certainty I +on=t depart this /ery moment.HWhen
you de/elop an impatience +hich thin5s, GI ha/e no time, I ha/e no time,H
Then you=/e generated the reali?ation of the uncertainty of death.
"eali?ation of the certainty of death comes +ith relati/e ease.%o+e/er,
it=s more diKcult to reali?e the uncertainty of the time of death.So don=t
thin5 to yourself that the latter topic is ta5ing too long.$ontinue +ith your
practice for days, months, or e/en years.Meditate +ith single2minded
resol/e until you produce a mental transformation.After generating this
reali?ation, go on to the next topic@That nothing except holy dharma can
,ene0t you at the time of death.
For as many days and months as are needed, contemplate these three
reasonsThat neither friends, nor +ealth, nor ,ody are of any help.
*ut once you percei/e that nothing except dharma ,ene0ts you at death,
!o further practice is needed8 for this /ery understanding is the measure
of reali?ation. *ecause this topic is easy to reali?e and need not ,e
practiced long, A 5ey point is to go on to the next su,-ect after you ha/e
gained the proper a+areness.
Although the topic of meditating on the su4ering of the lo+er statesIs
taught separately from ho+ to perform the act of ta5ing refuge,The ideal
+ay in +hich to practice them is to ta5e refuge"ight after re:ecting on
each aspect of the lo+er states.
Still, a po+erful and e4ecti/e instruction for the no/ice practitioner Is to
meditate initially on the su4ering of the lo+er states alone, Separately
from the act of ta5ing refuge. Then, after gaining the 0rst stagesOf
experiential reali?ation, you should culti/ate the t+o practices -ointly.
Among the areas of the three lo+er states, ,egin ,y meditating onThe
su4ering of G"e/i/alsH, +hich is the 0rst of the hot hells.After generating
the perception that you ha/e actually ta5en ,irth there,$ontemplate its
su4erings as though you are really experiencing them.
'ou may thin5, GIt +ould ,e agoni?ing to ta5e ,irth in such a place8*ut I
am only imagining this. It is not a real experience.HThough it is -ust your
imagination and not a real experience,'our mind contains the seeds of
accumulated and undiminished 5armaThat ha/e the po+er to hurl you into
the "e/i/als hell.
So ha/e no dou,t8 +hen these seeds are acti/ated and rendered potentIn
the lim, called G,eing,H6; you +ill de0nitely fall into that place.
If it frightens you no+ merely to contemplate such a place,What +ill you
do +hen you are actually ,orn there>
$ontemplate ho+ you +ill manage to endure su4ering li5e that.
$ontemplate ho+ you +ill manage to ,ear such a long life span.
Meditate alternately and +ith con/iction, then, on these t+o ideasThat
you ha/e actually ,een ,orn there and that you are certain to ,e ,orn
there.When you de/elop an intense desire to see5 immediatelyA means of
li,eration and a refuge that can sa/e you from this peril,And this ,rings on
such great apprehension that you e/en&ose your appetite for food, this is
the measure of ha/ing generatedAn experiential a+areness of the
su4ering in the lo+er states.
&i5e+ise, stri/e to meditate in the manner that +as -ust descri,ed,
Intensely and +ith single2minded determination, until you generate
The reali?ations that relate to the indi/idual su4erings experienced
In *lac5 &ines, $ompression, Screams, Nreat Screams,
$on:agration, Nreat $on:agration, and #nrelenting Torment.6<
After that, apply this same method of contemplation To the four great
ad-acent hell regions and the eight cold hells. (on=t re:ect as though you
+ere +atching some remote spectacle. "e:ect instead that you ha/e
actually ,een ,orn in these places And that you are certain to ,e ,orn
there. After meditating intensely On +hat you experience there and ho+
you +ill ha/e to undergo terri,le And intense su4ering for a /ery long
time, an un,eara,ly strong pain Will penetrate your heart as ,efore, and
cause you to lose all contentment.
When you de/elop an intense desire to see5 a means of li,eration and a
refugeThat can sa/e you, this is the mar5 that you ha/e generated the
proper reali?ation.
To enhance your practice +hen meditating on the su4ering of the hells,
"ead their descriptions in the Sutra on 'ell-composed RecollectionAnd
examine carefully the speci0c su4erings of these regionsAs they are
depicted in dra+ings. After doing this, re:ectGAs soon as I cast o4 this
physical form, I, too, +ill ,ecomeA /ictim of these /ery same conditions.
What shall I do then>H"ecalling this again and again is the ,est +ay to
impro/e your practice.
After that, generate a state of a+areness in +hich you imagineThat you
ha/e actually ,ecome each type of hungry ghost and animal.Though at
this time you ha/en=t really ,ecome these ,eings,'our mind is a
storehouse 0lled +ith myriad forms of pro-ecting 5armaThat +ill surely
cause you to ,e ,orn there ,efore /ery long.
So re:ect GWhen that happens, these are the experiences I +ill undergo.H
Then ponder all the acti/ities you +ill engage in@,oth +hile +al5ing and
at rest@When you actually ta5e ,irth as di4erent types of hungry ghosts
Or as a dog, a don5ey, a +orm, a ,ird, a deer, and so forth.Also as5
yourself G%o+ +ill I ,e a,le to endure all this>HTo enhance this practice,
read as +ell a,out the su4ering of hungry ghostsAnd animals as descri,ed
in the S.tra on 'ell-composed Recollection.
Meditate this +ay until you thin5, GI +ish I could close the door to the
lo+er states this /ery moment,HOr G%o+ +onderful it +ould ,e to 0nd a
means of closing it right no+.HWhen you also ta5e up, e/er so Auic5ly,
strenuous forms of practice,These are the signs that you ha/e generated
the appropriate reali?ation,As the scriptures descri,e in the story of
Ananda=s t+o nephe+s.6C
After generating, as descri,ed, the reali?ations that relate to the su4ering
in the three lo+er states,'ou +ill also de/elop the desire to 0nd a refuge
that can sa/e you from this plight.When this occurs, you are ready to
contemplate ho+ the Triple NemIs the only true refuge and to re:ect on
their /arious Aualities.
'ou +ill elicit a mental transformation ,y re:ecting for a,out se/en days
On the four reasons that explain +hy they are a +orthy o,-ect of refuge.
After that, meditate on a *uddha=s physical, /er,al, and mental Aualities,
and on the Aualities of his acti/ities.(o this in accord +ith your intellectual
po+ers, either in ,rief*y follo+ing the explanations that appear in the
&am2rim +ritingsOr in detail ,y follo+ing those presented in ma-or
philosophical treatises,Such as the t+o /rnaments, the 0igher Science,6F
and the li5e. The measure for ha/ing generated the proper experiential
reali?ation is to de/elop an intense faith that cannot ,e re/ersed.
Meditate similarly on the Aualities of the dharma and the sangha@Either
in ,rief as taught in the &am2rim or in detail as taughtIn the ma-or
treatises. The measure for ha/ing generated this reali?ationIs again to
de/elop a strong faith +hich cannot ,e o/ercome,Through ha/ing
recogni?ed the Aualities of this system=s Triple Nem@That is, our teacher,
his teaching, and those +ho practice the teaching.
After eliciting a reali?ation of this topic, do the same for each of those In
the section called Glearning the distinctions.H The measure for ha/ing
generatedThis reali?ation is to ,e a,le to apprehend clearly the
distinctions Associated +ith each aspect of the Triple Nem.
After eliciting that reali?ation, go to the next topic, +hich addresses%o+ to
ta5e refuge ,y professing faith in the Triple Nem."e:ectGI accept my guru
and the *uddha as the ones +ho teach me ho+ to 0nd refuge8I accept the
holy dharma gem as the actual refuge8And I accept the sangha as the
companions +ho help me to 0nd refuge.HThe measure of this experiential
reali?ation is to gain the con/iction That you could accept only the Triple
Nem +ith such strong faith, *ecause no other teacher, refuge, or follo+ers
are their eAual.
After generating this experiential reali?ation, the next topicIs to ta5e
refuge ,y disa/o+ing faith in any other tradition."e:ect carefully ho+ our
teacher, the *uddha, and his teachingAre the sole point of entry for those
+ho see5 li,eration,And ho+ they are superior ,y /irtue of possessing six
distinctions.6I"e:ect as +ell ho+ other teachers and their teachings@
Such as the doctrines of *on, the tirthikas,7J great +orldly gods,And all
those teachings and teachers di4erent from this dharma@Are inferior in
that they possess six opposite distinctions.Through re:ecting thus, ,ring
forth a heartfelt con/iction of ho+Our supreme teacher, his teaching and
those +ho follo+ it are the sole refuge,And ho+ no other tradition
+hatsoe/er is a true refuge.
The measure of reali?ation is reached +hen this 5eeps you from
generatingE/en the slightest thought of +anting to ta5e refuge in
someone else.
After that, you +ill elicit a mental transformation ,y meditating For a,out
se/en days on the ,ene0ts of ta5ing refuge and also for a,out a +ee5 On
the precepts to ,e o,ser/ed. So exert yourself +ith heartfelt con/iction.
*ecause it does not ta5e /ery long to generate reali?ationsOf the
meditation topics associated +ith ta5ing refuge,Study and re:ect on the
explanations found in the ma-or scriptures.&earn as +ell to meditate on
them +ith single2minded determination8For the /irtuous Aualities of the
Triple Nem are as /ast as space,As numerous as the grains of sand in the
Nanges, and as deep as the ocean.Moreo/er, the three realms are too
small to hold the merit that is gained*y recogni?ing and de/eloping faith
to+ard e/en a portion of them.So de/ote yourself to this practice
earnestly and /igorously.
After properly eliciting separate reali?ations as descri,ed a,o/e,For the
topics of re:ecting on the su4ering in the lo+er statesAnd recalling
extensi/ely the /irtuous Aualities of the Triple Nem,'ou should practice
ta5ing refuge in a +ay that com,ines the t+o su,-ects.
The t+o causes +hich form the ,asis for the act of ta5ing refugeAre the
fear of ,eing tormented ,y the su4ering in the lo+er statesAnd the faith
+hich ,elie/es that the Triple Nem alone ha/e the po+er to sa/e you.The
actual essence of ta5ing refuge is the mental act in +hich,*ased on these
causes, you entrust yourself from your heartTo the Triple Nem as the
o,-ect +hich can sa/e and protect you.
If you +ere to fall into the lo+er states, you +ould not ,e a,leTo 0nd a
refuge, nor +ould you e/en 5no+ ho+ to ta5e refuge.Thus, it=s crucial that
you ,egin right no+ to practice ta5ing refuge.'ou should do this ,y
re:ecting carefully on the +ords$omposed ,y the &ord Shantide/a, +hich
,egin at the phraseGWith eyes that peer a,out in terrorH and continue up
toThe line GPlease free me Auic5ly from this source of fear.H71
Furthermore, the +ay of de/oting yourself fully to these points And
meditating on them extensi/ely is to carry out the follo+ing practiceFirst
emanate from the heart of the guru on the cro+n of your headA complete
o,-ect of refuge, +hich ,ecomes seated in front of you.Then /isuali?e all
sentient ,eings of the six classes surrounding you.After that, ,egin ,y
meditating on the su4ering of "e/i/als.
Imagine you are actually there, so /i/idly that it 0lls you +ith terror.Then
re:ect that you need not ,e afraid, ,ecause the sa/ing refugeOf the Nuru
and Triple Nem@+ho are sitting in the space ,efore you@Possess the
po+er that can sa/e you from this plight. Finally, hold in your mind the
thought that you ,eseech this o,-ect of refugeFrom the ,ottom of your
heart to sa/e you and all sentient ,eings"ight no+ from this su4ering of
"e/i/als, +hile you diligently repeatThe refuge formula aloud many times
(o the same for the other hot hells@*lac5 &ines, $ompression, Screams,
and the rest@As +ell as for the four ad-acent hell regions,The eight cold
hells, the hungry ghosts, animals, and so on.Meditate on all their /arious
su4erings, ta5ing each one separately.Then recite the refuge formula
aloud, after you ha/e contemplated each topic.
These 5ey points ma5e for a practice that is truly +onderful.!o+adays,
many persons recite the refuge formula a prescri,ed num,er of times.*ut
they repeat the formula +ithout ha/ing gained any 5no+ledge
Of the topics -ust descri,ed, such as the causes and essence of ta5ing
refuge,Its /irtuous Aualities, distinctions, or the professing of faith and
disa/o+al of other religions,Such practice is mere /er,al stri/ing, mere
+ords, mere counting.%o+ could this e/er represent a genuine form of
ta5ing refuge>What can you accomplish ,y a refuge practice +hich fails to
enter the doorTo the inner faith of *uddhism and +hich is performed as
though it +ere a form of punishment>
So if you +ant to underta5e a prescri,ed num,er of refuge recitations,
Perform them here,76 +hile re:ecting extensi/ely on the /arious topics8
This +ill ensure that your e4orts are carried out most e4ecti/ely.
2 See more at httpQQ+++.lamayeshe.comQ>