The stages of the Buddhist path Lamrim:
If we examine our life we will discover that most of our time and energy is devoted to mundane activities, such as seeking material and emotional security, enjoying sensory pleasures, or establishing a good reputation. Although these things can make us happy for a short time, they are not able to provide the deep lasting contentment that we long for.
Sooner or later our happiness turns into dissatisfaction, and we find ourselves engaged in the pursuit of more worldly pleasures. Directly or indirectly, worldly pleasures cause us mental and physical suffering by stimulating attachment, jealousy, and frustration.
Moreover, seeking to fulfil our own desires often bring us into conflict with others. Happiness is a state of mind, therefore the real source of happiness lies in the mind, not in external circumstances. Only human beings can do this.
Animals can enjoy food and sex, find homes, hoard wealth, subdue their enemies, and protect their family; but they cannot completely eliminate suffering and attain lasting happiness.
It would be a great shame if we were to use our precious human life only to achieve results that even animals can achieve. If we wish to avoid such a wasted life and fulfil the real purpose of being born human we must devote ourself to the practice of Lamrim.
Meditation is a method for acquainting our mind with virtue. The more familiar our mind is with virtue, the calmer and more peaceful it becomes. When our mind is peaceful we are free from worries and mental discomfort, and we experience true happiness. If we train our mind to become peaceful we will be happy all the time, even in the most adverse conditions.
But if our mind is not peaceful, even if we have the most pleasant external conditions we will not be happy. Therefore it is important to train our mind through meditation.
Engaging in Meditation There are two types of meditation: When we contemplate the mean- ing of a Dharma instruction that we have heard or read we are doing analytical meditation. By deeply contemplating the instruction, eventually we reach a conclusion or cause a specific virtuous state of mind to arise.
This is the object of placement meditation. Having found our object through analytical meditation, we then concentrate on it single-pointedly for as long as possible to become deeply acquainted with it. This single-pointed concentration is placement meditation.
Placement meditation depends upon contemplation, and contemplation depends upon listening to or reading Dharma instructions. Breathing Meditation The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid. This can be accomplished by practising a simple breathing meditation.
We choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in a comfortable position.
We can sit in the traditional cross-legged posture or in any other position that is comfortable. If we wish, we can sit in a chair. The most important thing is to keep our back straight to prevent our mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy. The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid.
We sit with our eyes partially closed and turn our attention to our breathing. We breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control our breath, and we try to become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils.
This sensation is our object of meditation. We should try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else. At first, our mind will be very busy, and we might even feel that the meditation is making our mind busier; but in reality we are just becoming more aware of how busy our mind actually is.
There will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but we should resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath. If we discover that our mind has wandered and is following our thoughts, we should immediately return it to the breath.
We should repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath. The Benefits of Meditation When the turbulence of distracting thoughts subsides and our mind becomes still, a deep happiness and contentment naturally arises from within.
Our mind will feel lucid and spacious and we will feel refreshed. When the sea is rough, sediment is churned up and the water becomes murky, but when the wind dies down the mud gradually settles and the water becomes clear.
In a similar way, when the otherwise incessant flow of our distracting thoughts is calmed through concentrating on the breath, our mind becomes unusually lucid and clear. We should stay with this state of mental calm for a while. So much of the stress and tension we normally experience comes from our mind.There are many different virtuous objects of meditation, but the most meaningful the objects of the twenty-one meditations, from meditation on relying upon a Spiritual Guide to meditation on emptiness, the ultimate nature of phenomena.
Explanations of these can be found in the The New Meditation Handbook. If we appreciate the great potential of this life we shall not waste it There are many different virtuous objects of meditation. There are two types of meditation: analytical meditation and placement meditation.
Many objects are neutral and have no particular positive or negative effect on our mind. There are many different virtuous objects of meditation, but the most meaningful are the twenty-one objects of Lamrim meditation. There are many different virtuous objects of meditation.
By relying upon a qualified Spiritual Guide we open the door to practising Dharma. Through the blessings of our Spiritual Guide we generate faith and confidence in our practice, and easily attain all the realizations of the stages of the path.
There are also many neutral objects that are neither virtuous nor non-virtuous. Contemplation and meditation There are two types of meditation: analytical meditation and placement meditation. Many objects are neutral and have no particular positive or negative effect on our mind.
There are many different virtuous objects of meditation, but the most meaningful are the twenty-one objects of Lamrim meditation.