Showing posts tagged Buddhas
There are no valid reasons whatsoever for thinking that we are more important than others. For Buddhas, who have unmistaken minds and see things exactly as they are, all beings are equally important
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso ~ 8 Steps to Happiness (via self-assassin)
(Reblogged from self-assassin)
There are two ways in which Buddhas and Bodhisattvas help living beings: by manifesting in different aspects as Spiritual Guides who lead living beings to enlightenment by teaching the Dharma, and by assuming the form of different Dharma Protectors who remove obstacles and bestow good conditions.
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso - “Universal Compassion”

Preliminary Practices: Requesting the Holy Beings to Bestow Their Blessings

The last of the six preparatory practices for meditation is to request the holy beings to bestow their blessings on us. This has two parts: the request itself, and actually receiving the blessings. We make the request to transform our mind into the mind of an enlightened being and then we imagine that the blessings of the holy beings descend from their hearts to our body and mind in the form of lights and nectars. These pacify our negativity and obstacles, and increase our merit, lifespan, inner peace, and Dharma realizations.

The Buddhas are actually always bestowing their blessings on every living being all the time without us realizing it. By consciously making a request, we make our minds more receptive to the blessings that are already coming to us, which increases the effect of the blessings that we receive. It is similar to opening a shuttered window to the sun - the sun is there whether we open the shutters or not, but we get more sunlight directly on us if we do open the shutters. In a similar way, requesting blessings makes our mind more receptive to receiving blessings that already exist.

All those who are now Buddhas once wandered the painful paths of samsara, just as we still do now. However, through their great effort they entered the Bodhisattva’s path, and progressing through all its stages, attained complete enlightenment. From the depths of our heart we rejoice in their virtuous attainments and pray to become just like them.
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso - “Eight Steps to Happiness”
Visualizing Buddhas is not like a children’s game of make-believe; it is a way of opening our mind to what is already there. Buddha Shakyamuni said, “Whenever anyone with faith visualizes me, I am there.” On an overcast day, although we cannot see the sun directly we have no problem imagining it shining behind the clouds because we know it is there. In the same way, even if our visualization of the Buddhas is very unclear we should have no doubt that they are really present before us. If we engage in visualization with full confidence that the living Buddhas are in front of us, our mind will definitely make a connection with them, and gradually the clarity of our visualization will improve.
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso - “Eight Steps to Happiness”

Visualizing the Field for Accumulating Merit

We imagine that Buddha Shakyamuni is in front of us, surrounded by all the other holy beings - Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, lineage Gurus, etc. and meditate on this mental picture for a while. The image we perceive doesn’t have to be perfect in detail and it’s OK if it’s vague. Just generating a feeling that they are really there in the room with us is enough. Once we become more familiar with them, the visualization will become easier, just as if we were trying to visualize our relatives or close friends. In reality, the Buddhas are present in front of us and all around us, but because of our ignorance and negative karma we are unable to see them with our ordinary human eyes. Buddhas are everywhere.

Preliminary Practices: Sitting in the Correct Meditation Posture, Going for Refuge, and Generating Bodhichitta

Step #3 of the six preparatory practices include sitting correctly, going for refuge to the Three Jewels, and generating bodhichitta. We can sit either in a chair with our feet flat on the floor, or on a cushion with our legs crossed comfortably. The most important thing is that we keep a straight back and don’t slump forward or slouch back in our chair. This will help prevent from falling asleep during meditation, and give our lungs more room to breathe. If the mind is very busy, it’s OK to keep the eyes closed. If you are more prone to drowsiness, try to keep them slightly open, but looking down at the floor or something equally non-distracting. The hands can be placed in the lap in whatever position you find comfortable. In the Kadampa tradition, we place our right hand, palm facing up, inside our left hand with the palm also facing up, and the thumbs gently touching. Pictures and statues of Buddha Amitabha show him in the correct meditation posture, including the hands.

Once we are in the correct meditation posture, we can do a short breathing meditation to calm our mind, imagining that we breathe out dark smoke containing our distractions, and breathe in the white light of the Buddha’s blessings, purifying our mind. Then we go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and imagine that the living Buddha Shakyamuni and all the other Buddhas are really in front of us. Then we generate bodhichitta motivation, the intention to attain enlightenment for the sake of all living beings. Going for refuge to the Three Jewels is the gateway through which we enter Buddhism in general, and generating bodhichitta motivation is the gateway through which we enter Mahayana Buddhism.

Preliminary Practices: Arranging Beautiful Offerings

Step #2 of the six preparatory practices is to set out offerings on our shrine to the Buddhas. We don’t make offerings because the Buddhas need them; Buddhas don’t need anything from us themselves. We make these offerings to them with a mind of faith for the positive effect on our own mind.

Traditional offerings set out in bowls in front of the images of the Buddhas include: water for drinking, water for bathing (or washing the feet), flowers, incense, lights (a candle or clear crystal can be used), perfume, and food (such as a piece of fruit or vegetable). The eight offering is music / sound, which is offered through our prayers. Water poured into 7 bowls may substitute for the actual substances.

One of the best methods to increase our faith in the Buddhas and to receive their blessings is to gaze at an image of a Buddha again and again, regarding it as an actual Buddha who is supremely kind to all living beings. When we see a Buddha statue, for example, instead of thinking of it as an object made of metal or stone, or focusing on its artistic faults or merits, we should feel that we are in the presence of a real living Buddha and develop deep faith. By viewing images of Buddhas in this way, it is as if we are opening a window in our mind through which the blessings of the holy beings can enter. This special way of viewing Buddha images is based on wisdom, not ignorance, and functions to increase our faith and receive blessings.
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso - “Eight Steps to Happiness”