Daily Practice Homework Oct 24 2009


Dear Establishing a Daily Practice students,

If you don’t have a meditation space and altar in your home, please set one up. It doesn’t have to be complicated.  If you already have an altar, you might want to re-examine it in light of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s guidance in the required readings hand-out. I’ll expand the discussion on how to prepare an altar in the next class.

Readings:

Please come to class next week having read: Required Readings handout — pages 1 – 17; 57 – 64.  Wish fulling golden light of the sun — pages 1 – 68. These readings will be very helpful for understanding why a daily practice is so important and for setting your motivation. If you are coming primarily from a Zen / Theravadan background, you’ll also find these readings to be interesting.

Also, order a copy of  the practice manual “Shakyamuni Buddha – A Daily Meditation on Shakyamuni Buddha” from the FPMT online shop. Written by Lama Zopa Rinpoche for use by beginning students, it is a clearly outlined practice complete with guided meditations for developing one’s motivation, the mind of refuge, and the thought of bodhichitta. In addition the practice contains mantra recitation and visualization based on Shakyamuni Buddha and a Lam-rim prayer in the form of a request for blessings to develop all the realizations on the path to full awakening. We will use this prayer book during class and you should try to do this practice daily. It takes 3 – 5 days for your order to arrive from FPMT. This practice is not available as a PDF download from FPMT, unfortunately, I checked. The practice is included in Essential Prayers Volume 1 in case you already have that book.

Please print the following prayer booklet. We will be doing some of these prayers together in class: 8 prayers to benefit the dead.

You might want to use a meditation journal to record your thoughts and observations. This can be helpful for tracking changes over time.

Sugggested Activity:

  • On a piece of paper, write down your short-term goal for your daily practice just until the end of this course in early December. For example, your goal might be to do the Shakyamuni Daily Practice three times a week, and maybe calm abiding or vipassana meditation the other four days a week. Be realistic!  This is for your personal use only, you will not be asked to share your goals in class.
  • Do at least three prostrations a day using whichever version you feel comfortable with.
  • Recite at least ten malas of the Chenrezig mantra, OM MANE PADME HUM
  • Recite as many Medicine Buddha mantras as possible, TAYATA OM BEKANZAY BEKANZAY MAHA BEKANZAY RADZA SAMUDGATAY SOHA

Discussion Question:

Do you find it difficult to establish a daily practice, and if so, why? What kind of experience in your life would it take to change your mind? Why do you think people tend to turn to the Dharma in times of stress and then abandon their practice when things are going well?

Please share your thoughts with the group using the Comment feature below.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email: anitendrol@guhyasamaja.org.

Best wishes,

Tendrol

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4 thoughts on “Daily Practice Homework Oct 24 2009

  1. Until very recently I had no daily practice of any sort.

    For years I took great pleasure in travelling to hear Dharma, reading, contemplating and discussing Dharma. But it was always easy to find an excuse not to sit. I lacked the proper objects, or lacked the proper space, or lacked the proper time, and so on.

    Then early this year, during a discussion on the apparent fragility of life, it seemed as if the teachings I’d heard on the suffering nature of Samsara, the preciousness of this human rebirth and the functioning of Karma had slow-baked into the strong desire to have a daily practice.

    I’m pretty sure that feeling the urgency of the situation is the motivating fuel for daily practice–if the urgency is felt in relation to a worldly crisis, then the urgency will cease when the worldly crisis ceases; if the urgency is felt in relation to taking rebirth in Samsara, the urgency will not cease until taking rebirth in Samsara ceases.

    So while I now have some (difficult to obtain!) motivation to practice, I hope that through this course led by Venerable Tendrol I can make my practice meaningful.

    • Eric — thanks for your beautiful response. You are absolutely right — we need to be motivated by a sense of urgency, the instability of our situation – Impermanence with a capitol “I”.

      Ven Tenzin Lektsok – a young, American monk who has been studying at Sera Je for the past few years wrote in an article in Mandala magazine that the monks there practice Dharma 24/7 as though they’re in a house that is on fire. Death can come at any time. Re-birth in the hell realms is a heart beat away. No one wants to hear this message, though, right?

      Through the Dharma, we can make our lives meaningful beginning with our formal meditation time and then carrying on through the post-meditation periods, even sleeping.

  2. Daily practice is difficult for me because I don’t know exactly what I should be doing and in what order I should be doing it. I have a meditation practice but I get lazy on the weekends. My main excuse has been, “I’m too tired.” The teachings I’ve had via this group throughout the year, plus my study at home has reinforced in my mind the importance of a daily practice. I’ve seen positive changes in my attitude and this motivates me to continue studying and practicing the Dharma.

    Chronic physical pain drew me to the Dharma years ago, but then my “at home” practice began to wane when my physical discomfort eased up somewhat. When things are going well in life I believe that some people become complacent, and they hold the wrong conception that no harm will come their way.

    • Thanks so much for your comments, Deanna. I’m so glad you’re practice is flourishing and that you feel a positive change in your attitude. I think your comment about becoming complacent is accurate — we forget that negative karma resulting from past actions ripens unpredictably (sickness, accidents, death, and so forth) and that we are completely under its control.

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