Saturday, 17 November 2012

The 7th Verse of the Eight Verses for Training the Mind

In brief, may I offer both directly and indirectly all help, happiness and benefit to all beings, my mothers, and may I secretly take upon myself all of their harmful actions, pain and suffering.
The main thing that I see 99% of all Buddhists doing wrong is trying to be positive instead of negative. This is the downfall of nearly all religious practises. As Alan Watts said it is like playing a game of ‘white must win’ or ‘good must win’, however the infuriating truth is that good is bad and bad is good, they are both sides of the same coin. The ‘positive’ Buddha is talking about is the balanced middle, this is real positivity. To try to be positive all of the time is the same as and sometimes worse than being negative all of the time.
But the balanced middle is where Buddha lives. If you can give up on labelling reality with black and white, right and wrongs, good and bad, if you can let go of this and silently return to the centre of your being you will uncover a primordial energy. This energy is beyond good and bad, indeed it is the harmonious balance of good and bad. It is beyond sanctimony and it is beyond menace. So when we talk about averting negative thoughts and emotions we don’t mean to go to the other extreme of being over positive. The reason why it is a bad idea to be over positive is because reality is like a circle. If you are too positive eventually you will swing back the other way and become too negative. Better stay in the balanced middle.
This verse can bring us directly into contact with the balanced middle, with our pure awareness, with our Buddha nature. This verse is the magical practice of giving and receiving. In the Nyigma school of Tibetan Buddhism there is a profound meditation practice called Tonglen. In Tonglen you must reflect on the immense suffering that all beings everywhere experience. You must allow their suffering to open your heart and awaken your compassion. Then imagine, as clearly as possible, that someone you care for and who is suffering is before you. Then, as you feel your heart opening in compassion toward the person, imagine that all of his or her suffering comes out of their body in the form of hot, black, filthy smoke. Then visualise breathing in the smoke and seeing it dissolve into the centre of your heart. There in your heart, it utterly destroys all traces of anxiety and egocentricity and returns you to a state of inner balance. As you breathe out, envision sending healing light rays of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, peace, happiness, and health to this person. Imagine that they are totally healed, healthy, happy and living with abundance. Continue this "giving and receiving" with each breath for as long as you wish. Breath in the pain and suffering breath out healing light. Also you can expand this healing practise gradually towards everybody in the world.

The Tonglen practice appears in Buddhism in many different forms; to Hinayana practioners it is known as the Metta Bhava. Here in Langri Tangpa’s verse we are being told to take on the spirit of giving and receiving in everything that we do. Instead of just practising in the meditation session we can imagine taking other peoples suffering onto ourselves all of the time as well as trying to help them in any way we can. If we cannot help them we can imagine taking on their pain and wishing them happiness. If you can do this with someone you hate it is particularly powerful and can dissolve problems quickly.

If you do this you will notice that other people feel at ease around you. They somehow pick up on the good vibes you are sending out and tend to be friendlier towards you. Practising this verse also seems to attract good fortune, health and wealth.

Another thing you can do is imagine that any illness or suffering you may have is actually someone else’s suffering and you have taken it of them. I have personally witnessed miracles in my own body from doing this. Once I cut my thumb with a knife, I imagined that the cut and the pain was the pain of all of the children suffering in war torn countries like Iraq. I imagined as vividly as possible that the pain I was experiencing wasn’t my own and that I had simply taken it from these children. Within 24 hours my thumb had completely healed over. It is no word of a lie when I say I have not been ill since I learnt this practice, as soon as I get ill I imagine that the illness is somebody else’s pain and I am happy that I can take it from them. Every time I do this I am cured within hours. The only thing it doesn’t seem to work with is hangovers! It also doesn’t work if you are not sincere.

I use this practice with my family members and it really works. As you fall asleep imagine taking on the suffering of a member of your family. Imagine them vividly being happy, healthy and living with joy. The amount of times I have done this and witnessed my mother or father or partner miraculously get a boost of health and joy is truly amazing. Try it.

Fundamentals of Buddhism

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