Text Section 158
These four steps of approaching the text:
- declaring respect,
- pledging to compose (the text),
- casting away pride, and
- generating joy can be applied to any work or activity one undertakes.
You especially need these four steps when you study, contemplate or meditate on the teachings.
‘Declaring respect’ in dharma and worldly situations means that in order to transform your mind, you at first supplicate [gsol ’debs], make aspirations [smon lam], utter praises [bstod par brjod pa] and go for refuge [skyabs su ’gro ba] in the buddhas, bodhisattvas and lineage masters. Through supplication [gsol ’debs] you bring energy [nus pa] to your mind.
Next, you need to make a pledge or firm resolve [dam bca’] to study, contemplate and meditate on the dharma. Pledging to carry out such a task stabilizes your mind. Then you should humble yourself and not allow yourself to become proud. On the other hand you should not be too timid either. You should study, contemplate and meditate on the dharma with joy in your heart.
The Buddha teaches us to avoid the two extremes [mtha’ gnyis spong ba]. Concerning the view [lta ba], one must avoid the extremes of eternalism [rtag mtha’] and nihilism [chad mtha’]. In regard to meditation [sgom pa], one needs to be on guard against falling into the extremes of drowsiness [bying ba] or agitation [rgod pa]. Finally, regarding the conduct [spyod pa], avoid the extreme of sense gratification [’dod pa bsod nyams kyi mtha’] as well as the extreme of hardship and penance [ngal zhing dub pa’i mtha’].
When you start your meditation in the morning, first pay respect to the buddhas and your lineage masters by supplicating them in order to bring down their blessing to transform your mind. You pray to them, “May the precious bodhicitta be born in my mind.” Then you make the firm resolve to meditate on bodhicitta, without any distraction, for the duration of your entire meditation session.
You must further cultivate a motivation which is both modest and humble. You should not meditate motivated by arrogance and pride. Neither should you meditate in a timid frame of mind. Do not think, “This is all too difficult. How could someone like me ever develop the precious bodhicitta?” You must establish in yourself the confidence that you are perfectly able to meditate on bodhicitta. Practice then with a heart overflowing with joy and inspiration.