4 MEDITATION ON OUR DETERMINATION AND PROMISE TO SINCERELY PRACTISE THE SIX PERFECTIONS
THE PURPOSE OF THIS MEDITATION
The purpose of this meditation is to reach the state of enlightenment directly. The six perfections are the actual path to enlightenment, and they are also the path of bodhichitta and the Bodhisattva’s path. Through following this path with the vehicle of bodhichitta we will definitely reach the state of enlightenment. Our bodhichitta wish is to attain enlightenment to benefit each and every living being directly. To fulfil this wish, in front of our Spiritual Guide or an image of Buddha regarded as the living Buddha, we should promise to engage in the Bodhisattva’s path or training while reciting the following ritual prayer three times. This promise is the Bodhisattva’s vow. O Guru Buddha, please listen to me. Just as all the previous Sugatas, the Buddhas, Generated the mind of enlightenment, bodhichitta, And accomplished all the stages Of the Bodhisattva’s training, So will I too, for the sake of all beings, Generate the mind of enlightenment And accomplish all the stages Of the Bodhisattva’s training. When we take the Bodhisattva’s vow we are taking the commitment to engage in the path to enlightenment, the Bodhisattva’s training, which is the practice of the six perfections. Normally, when we start an ordinary job we commit ourself to fulfilling our employer’s wishes; otherwise we will quickly lose our job. In the same way,
having generated bodhichitta – the determination to attain enlightenment to benefit each and every living being directly – we need to commit ourself to engaging in the practice of the six perfections. If we do not make this commitment by taking the Bodhisattva’s vow, we will lose our opportunity to attain enlightenment. Through contemplating this we should encourage ourself to take the Bodhisattva’s vow and sincerely practise the six perfections. The six perfections are the practices of giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom, motivated by bodhichitta. We should recognize that the six perfections are our daily practice. In the practice of giving we should practise: (1) giving material help to those in poverty, including giving food to animals; (2) giving practical help to those sick or physically weak; (3) giving protection by always trying to save others’ lives, including those of insects; (4) giving love – learning to cherish all living beings by always believing that their happiness and freedom are important; and (5) giving Dharma – helping others to solve their problems of anger, attachment and ignorance by giving Dharma teachings or meaningful advice. In the practice of moral discipline we should abandon any inappropriate actions including those that cause others suffering. We should especially abandon breaking our commitments of the Bodhisattva’s vow. This is the basic foundation on which we can make progress on the Bodhisattva’s path. By doing this our actions of body, speech and mind will be pure, so that we become a pure being. In the practice of patience we should never allow ourself to become angry or discouraged, by temporarily accepting any difficulties or harm from others. When we practise patience we are wearing the supreme inner armour that directly protects us from physical sufferings, mental pain and other problems. Anger destroys our merit, or good fortune, so that we will continually experience many obstacles, and because of lacking good fortune it will be difficult to fulfil our wishes, especially our spiritual aims. There is no greater evil than anger. With the practice of patience we can accomplish any spiritual aim; there is no greater virtue than patience. In the practice of effort we should rely on irreversible effort to accumulate the great collections of merit and wisdom, which are the main causes of attaining Buddha’s Form Body (Rupakaya), and Truth Body (Dharmakaya); and especially we should emphasize contemplation and meditation on emptiness, the way things really are. By doing this we can easily make progress on the path to enlightenment. With effort we can accomplish our aim, whereas with laziness we cannot achieve anything. In the practice of concentration, at this stage we should emphasize accomplishing the concentration of tranquil abiding observing emptiness. An explanation of this can be found in the book Modern Buddhism in the section A Simple Training in Ultimate Bodhichitta. When, through the power of this concentration, we experience a special wisdom called ‘superior seeing’ that realizes the emptiness of all phenomena very clearly, we will have progressed from being a Bodhisattva on the path of accumulation to being a Bodhisattva on the path of preparation. In the practice of wisdom, at this stage we need to emphasize increasing the power of our wisdom of superior seeing by continually meditating on the emptiness of all phenomena with bodhichitta motivation. Through this, when our superior seeing transforms into the path of seeing, which is the direct realization of the emptiness of all phenomena, we will have progressed from being a Bodhisattva on the path of preparation to being a Bodhisattva on the path of seeing. The moment we attain the path of seeing we are a Superior Bodhisattva and no longer experience samsara’s sufferings. Even if someone cuts our body piece by piece with a knife we have no pain because we have the direct realization of the way things really are. Having completed the path of seeing, to make further progress we need to engage continually in the meditation on the emptiness of all phenomena with bodhichitta motivation. This meditation is called the ‘path of meditation’. When we reach this stage we will have progressed from being a Bodhisattva on the path of seeing to being a Bodhisattva on the path of meditation. Having completed the path of meditation, when our wisdom of the path of meditation transforms into an omniscient wisdom that is permanently free from all mistaken appearances, this omniscient wisdom is called the ‘Path of No More Learning’, which is actual enlightenment. When we reach this stage we will have progressed from being a Bodhisattva on the path of meditation to being an enlightened being, a Buddha. We will have completed the ultimate goal of living beings. The Bodhisattva’s initial training in accumulating merit or wisdom is the Bodhisattva’s path of accumulation; the Bodhisattva’s training in accumulating merit or wisdom that is a preparation for attaining the path of seeing is the Bodhisattva’s path of preparation; the Bodhisattva’s training that is the initial direct realization of emptiness is the Bodhisattva’s path of seeing; after completing the path of seeing, the Bodhisattva’s training that meditates continually on emptiness is the Bodhisattva’s path of meditation; and Buddha’s omniscient wisdom that is attained through completing all the trainings of Sutra and Tantra is the Path of No More Learning, the state of enlightenment. THE OBJECT OF THIS MEDITATION The object of this meditation is our determination and promise to sincerely practise the six perfections. We should learn to develop this determination and promise through contemplating the above explanation of the purpose of this meditation. When, through this contemplation, a firm determination and promise to sincerely practise the six perfections develops in our heart, we have found the object of this meditation. THE ACTUAL MEDITATION From our heart we should think: Just as all the previous Buddhas generated the precious mind of bodhichitta and accomplished all the stages of the Bodhisattva’s path, so will I too for the sake of all living beings generate the precious mind of bodhichitta and accomplish all the stages of the Bodhisattva’s path, the practice of the six perfections. We hold this determination firmly and remain on it single-pointedly for as long as possible. Through continually engaging in this meditation we will develop a spontaneous wish to complete our training in the six perfections, the Bodhisattva’s path. This wish is the realization of this meditation. During the meditation break we should apply irreversible effort to training in the six perfections and to accumulating the collections of merit and wisdom. In this way we can make progress moment by moment towards the attainment of enlightenment.