Let's plan ahead...

When I die, I'd like to have a really big wake - lots of liquor, lots of food, a pipe band, the works. To make this easier to organize, I'm using this nifty device - Death Clock - it calculates your day of death, and even tells you how many seconds you have left to live.

Assuming my weight loss continues and I reach my goal weight, I'll be checking out on Dec. 14th, 2038. Mark it on your calendars now. (I hate to ruin Chrismahanakwanzayule for everyone - I'm trying to get an extension until after the hollowdaze, but you know how difficult that can be...)

Go and check your own date of death - I don't want any of us to conflict. While you are at it, feel free to page through the new Cofanifunebri calendar. I'm partial to the one for July...

Lojong #8

#8 Three objects, three poisons, and three seeds of virtue.

Alan Wallace:
The next verse refers to the three objects: agreeable, disagreeable, and neutral objects. As we relate to these three types of objects, the three mental poisons arise: attachment, hostility, and confusion. The point is to use these poisons as opportunities to nurture the roots of virtue.

As we engage in the affairs of daily life, as soon as we become aware that attachment, craving, or clinging has arisen, right then is the time to recognize that there are an immeasurable number of sentient beings who are subject to the same mental afflictions. Expand your awareness of this right on the spot, and let the aspiration arise: "May those countless sentient beings be endowed with the root of virtue that is freedom from attachment. May they be free of this attachment that I am now experiencing." The aspiration itself is a root of virtue.

Geshe Rabten and Geshe Dhargyey:
Worldly beings regard objects in three ways. Agreeable objects are looked upon with the poison of attachment, or desire, disagreeable objects with the poison of aversion, or hatred, and indifferent objects with the poison of ignorance of their true mode of existence, emptiness. In our meditation we should imagine accepting these three poisons, the source of all misery, from every being in cyclic existence, and replacing them with the three sources of virtue and happiness: nonattachment, non-aggression, and non-ignorance. This is the abbreviated final instruction. If we seriously practice giving and taking, little harm or suffering comes to us. When it does, we accept it and, by realizing that its deep cause lies in a past unwholesome action, we transform it into the path to liberation. Just as a bird flaps its wings to fly higher and is further assisted by the wind blowing from beneath, in the same way we too are assisted by two vital forces as we develop the awakening mind: these are accepting all the trouble and suffering of others upon ourselves, and giving them all our merit, virtues, and excellent qualities such as wisdom and compassion. We should practice this not only in our imagination, but when circumstances arise and there is a chance to help others; in fact, we must spontaneously do whatever we can to assist them. If we do not apply our practice to our everyday actions, we are being hypocritical and deceiving ourselves.

Linus Furious:
This teaching cuts to the roots of what it means to "practice" a religion. It speaks to a radical shift in the practitioner's perception of the world, a turning away from old patterns and a dedication to a new way of seeing. When Alan Wallace says above, "right then" he is referring to a time that is also right now - every moment is an opportunity to practice.

If you missed the explanation of the lojong sayings and tonglen meditation, click here.

The Pope Demands Nostalgia

Frequently, the Dampyre Zombie Lord has great blogging ideas, and today was no exception. So, instead of another angst-filled rant on the soul-killing enui of academia, I have instead lifted the following directly from him:

Memory lane Message: If you read this, even if we don't speak often, you must post a comment on my page with a memory of you and me. It can be anything you want -- good or bad, just as long as it happened Think long and hard now!! Then post this up yourself and see what people remember about you.

See? I told you it was a good idea. Make it so.

Lojong #7

#7 Sending and Taking Should Be Practiced Alternately. These Two Should Ride the Breath.

Pema Chodron:
It's useful to think of tonglen practice in four stages:
1) Flashing openness.
2) Working with the texture, breathing in dark, heavy, and hot and breathing out white, light and cool.
3) Working with relieving a specific, heartfelt instance of suffering.
4) Extending that wish to help everyone.

The first stage is flashing openness, or flashing absolute bodhicitta. The slogan "Rest in the nature of ALAYA, the essence" goes along with this flash of openness, which is done very quickly. there is some sort of natural flash of silence and space. It's a very simple thing.

The second stage is working with the texture. You visualize breathing in dark, heavy and hot and breathing out white, light and cool. The idea is that you are always breathing in the same thing: you are essentially breathing in the cause of suffering, the origin of suffering, which is fixation, the tendency to hold on the ego with a vengeance.

The third stage is working with a specific heartfelt object of suffering. You breathe in the pain of a specific person or animal that you wish to help. You breathe out to that person spaciousness or kindness or a good meal or a cup of coffee - whatever you feel would lighten their load. You can do this for anyone: the homeless mother that you pass on the street, your suicidal uncle, or yourself and the pain you are feeling at that very moment. The main point is that the suffering should be real, totally untheoretical. It should be heartfelt, tangible, honest, and vivid.

The fourth stage extends this wish to relieve suffering much further. You start with this homeless person and then extend out to all those who are suffering just as she is, or to all those who are suicidal like your uncle or to all those who are feeling the jealousy or addiction or contempt you are feeling. You use specific instances of misery and pain as a stepping stone for understanding the universal suffering of people and animals everywhere. Simultaneously, you send out spaciousness or cheerfulness or a bunch of flowers, whatever would be healing, to your uncle and all the others. What you feel for one person, you can extend to all people.

You can bring all of your unfinished karmic business right into the practice. In fact, you should invite it in. Suppose that you are involved in a horrific relationship: every time you think of a particular person you get furious. That is very useful for tonglen! Or perhaps you feel depressed. It was all you could do to get out of bed today. You're so depressed that you want to stay in bed for the rest of your life: you have considered hiding under the bed. That is very useful for tonglen practice.

If you missed the explanation of the lojong sayings and tonglen meditation, click here.