Since young, we have been spending every moment of our life preparing for tomorrow. But the only thing that most of us do not prepare for or forget to prepare for is our future lives. This has been so since our beginningless lives and this is why we still remain in samsara.
These are the edited excerpts of the teaching given by Nuptul Tenpei Nyima Rinpoche in Singapore on 6 January 2011.
THE IMPORTANCE OF REFUGE
Before we recite prayers, meditation or engage in whatever Dharma practice, we recite the mantras of the general refuge and the Tantrayana refuge. This is because in Buddhism, refuge in the Three Jewels is very important. As Buddhists, we should know what refuge is, who the Buddha and Sangha are and what the Dharma is. If we claimed to be Buddhist and yet have no idea what the Three Jewels are, the others will laugh at us. Therefore, taking refuge is the entrance to the Buddhist path.
The general refuge consists of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. "Namo Buddhaya, Namo Dharmaya, Namo Sanghaya" is the general refuge mantra in Sanskrit. In addition, in Vajrayana Buddhism, there is the inner refuge, which is also known as the Three Roots –- the Guru, the Dewa and the Dakini. The Guru is the master who gives us precious instructions and guides us in the spiritual path. The Dewas refers to all the yidams or deities. In Vajrayana Buddhism, practitioners do practices of a particular deity, which they have a strong karmic connection. The yidam is the embodiment of truth, which practitioners invoke as the heart of their practice. Finally, the Dakinis consist of all the female deities and the Dharma protectors, who are manifestations of buddhas and bodhisattvas to protect the teachings and genuine practitioners.
The general refuge is the foundation for inner refuge. Therefore, to have refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha in whatever we do is very important. When we do charity, practice, chanting or meditation, we must always remember the Three Jewels. In this way, our meditation and practice will yield the right results and we will be on the correct path.
Why do we need to take refuge? It is important because currently, we do not have confidence. This is why we need to rely on someone who can guide us. In this world, there is nobody who can save us. Our parents cannot save us because they too are in the same situation –- samsara. The only ones who can help us are the Buddha, Sangha, Guru, Dewa and Dakini, who are enlightened beings. Why are they called enlightened beings? This is because they are free from all sufferings. Because of this, they have the power to heal us from all our sufferings, defilements and negativities. We need their support. This is why we pray and supplicate to them. To pray to them is to request them to help us, bless us and support us. We need to purify our negativities, which we have accumulated since the beginningless time. This purification and blessing is something that our parents and our lovely husband or wife cannot give us. Only an enlightened being can bless us and free us from this samsaric world.
PREPARATION FOR FUTURE LIFE
Life is impermanent and uncertain. We do not know when is the day our death will come. We have no certainty when our death will be. What happens if we die suddenly? Who can save us? When the time comes, we will have to leave this world alone. We even have to leave our precious body behind. At that time, only the enlightened beings have the power to help us. They are the only ones who are able to lead us, bless us and save us.
At the time of death, we can bring nothing along with us. The only thing we can bring along with us is the Dharma. Therefore, Dharma is not only beneficial for our present life, it is beneficial for our future life as well. Since young, we have been spending every moment of our life preparing for tomorrow. But the only thing that most of us do not prepare for or forget to prepare for is our future lives. This has been so since our beginningless lives and this is why we still remain in samsara.
Now, we have a precious human rebirth. Despite great difficulties, all the perfect conditions for us to obtain a precious human body have come together. We have met the Dharma which is so hard to encounter, meet our spiritual teachers and have faith in the teachings. Now is a great opportunity to practise. Therefore, we have to use our life to study, contemplate and meditate on Dharma diligently, so as to reduce our confusion and negative emotions.
Before we meditate, we must understand what it means by meditation. Without proper understanding in this, our meditation can easily become blind meditation.
To meditate is to develop our mental attitude, find spirituality and improve our mental quality. Meditation does not only mean to relax. When people say meditation, they always thought it means to relax. However, they do not know how to relax. They thought it means thinking about nothing at all. As a result, there is not much improvement to their mind.
Real meditation is more than just relaxing. Sitting silently and closing the eyes are just physical posture of meditation – like a Buddha’s statue in sitting meditation. We need an authentic spiritual teacher who can guide us before we engage in actual meditation. All the buddhas of the three times, the yogis and yoginis who are enlightened –- all of them would not attain enlightenment without the spiritual guidance of their teachers.
POWER OF VISUALISATION
Visualisation is very powerful as everything is the result of visualisation or imagination. This cup is created as a result of imagination or visualisation. And so is this handphone. Even simple ordinary things become beautiful because of imagination or visualisation, using human’s intelligence and potential.
Our meditation is much more powerful than this because these are intangible experiences that cannot be taught, described or explained. We have to learn through our own experience. This is why we need to meditate. Through this, we can develop our mental quality and slowly, this will bring us to enlightenment.
Before we get up from our meditation position, we must do a dedication. To whom do we dedicate our merits to? We dedicate our merits to our beloved parents, relatives, and gradually extend it further and further to include our enemies and finally to all sentient beings. "Due to these merits accumulated by this meditation, may all mother sentient beings who are in very miserable states be happy and be free from suffering. May they eventually attain enlightenment." This virtuous motivation of our dedication will allow our bodhicitta mind and our compassion to arise more and more. Our mind will become more open and less sensitive. When we are less sensitive, we will have less stress. When we have less stress, we can see more opportunities. When we see more opportunities, there will be greater joy, happiness and peace in our mind.
Besides, after meditation, we will feel a sense of accomplishment, "Oh, I just completed my meditation." In this way, we will develop more self-confidence. When we have self-confidence, we will be less confused and have a greater peace of mind. When we do not have self-confidence, we will always be lost. For instance, one day, a master might say this and you believed it to be true. Then, the next day, another master said something else and you thought, "Oh, you are right. I will listen to you." We are lost because we are very confused. We do not know how to choose and what is right or wrong. This is all due to a lack of self-confidence in us.