|The following article is from the Spring, 2003 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.|
Clear, eloquent, simple and profound, His Holiness' teachings are easily accessible to beginning practitioners, yet richly nourishing to those more advanced in practice. In The Path to Bliss, the Dalai Lama shows how visualization, reason, and contemplation can be systematically crafted to enhance personal development. Beginning with practices designed to create an effective mental outlook, His Holiness skillfully guides the student to more advanced techniques for developing the mind's deepest potential and happiness.
"Exemplifying the sophistication arid elegance of Tibetan Buddhist methods for spiritual development, Path to Bliss sets a new standard for accessibility and sheer pleasure of reading translations from Tibetan."—DANIEL GOLEMAN
The following excerpt shows his Holiness' lucid, practical approach.
Activities of the Between-Session Periods
At the end of the session, take a little rest. Sometimes when you are resting, you may have inspiration all of a sudden, which helps you see things that you have never seen before.
Although in the after-session periods you are not engaged in formal meditation, you should keep your mind deep down still focused on the practice so that the warmth of the session is not lost. Then, when you resume your second session you will be able to conduct it successfully, thus enabling you to build on the progress you have made in the first session. Otherwise, if you let yourself stray and be idle during the between session periods, whatever progress you may have made in the first session will be totally lost, and then in the second session you will have to start right from the beginning. The state is analogous to a hearth in which you do not extinguish the fire totally, so that when you rekindle the fire you will be able to do so quite easily and quickly. It is also helpful to read texts related to your practice.
When you wake up in the morning, you should bless your speech with certain mantras and develop a strong determination that you will use the twenty-four hours of I the day for a worthy purpose and shall not waste even a single moment of the day.
When you wake up in the morning, you should bless your speech with certain mantras and develop a strong determination that you will use the twenty-four hours of the day for a worthy purpose and shall not waste even a single moment of the day. With such determination and motivation at the beginning, do any practices that you undertake, such as guru yoga, and then engage in the practice of Lamrim.
If you live your life in such a manner you will be able to make progress, whereas if you just give up right from the beginning and feel discouraged, then there is not much you can hope for. Therefore, it is very important to have courage and determination. The same is true for lay people: Although you have to be concerned about your profession, livelihood, and so forth, nevertheless, at the beginning of the day when you first wake up, it is important to develop the firm determination that you shall live the day properly, in a righteous manner, and not deceive others, tell lies, and so forth. Tibetans, for example, should make the determination that during the day, if they are not able to make any contribution to the Tibetan cause, at least they will not degrade the Tibetan name or be a disgrace to it. Those Tibetans who hold me dear should determine that at least they will think about the Dalai Lama, and not be deceptive to him.
Therefore, monks, lay people, and all of you, it is possible to live a life properly within the dharma, right from the beginning of the day adopting the right attitude and determination, putting all that you know about dharma into practice, with a plan that the tilings you are not able to practice right now, you will practice next year or in the future. In such a manner you will be able to make progress.
At the end of the day when you go to bed, before going to sleep you should check on the nature of the activities in which you engaged during the day. If you find that any negative actions have been performed, you should generate regret and resolve that you will never indulge in them in the future. If you find that you have engaged in some positive actions, you should rejoice.
Also, when going to bed, it is important that you do so with a virtuous thought, because sometimes it is possible for a practitioner to have certain practices in dreams, too; this will be particularly important for the morning, when you are waking up, because in the morning you have a very clear, fresh mind and therefore, when you engage in a practice at that time, it will be more powerful and clear.
Those meditators who are up in caves should be careful not to meet just anybody, because such a meeting may hinder their progress. Even the mere indication of a stranger coming may hinder your practices; therefore, be cautious.
This is how you should meditate and undertake the practice of dharma. If you are able to undertake the practice in such a maimer, irrespective of whether you recite many texts or not, you will be able to make real progress. Then there is a hope that you will be able to achieve enlightenment in this lifetime, or, if not, in the intermediate state, or in a future lifetime.