A Golden Ring

An Introduction to Buddhist Meditation

by Dr. Yutang Lin | 21,073 words

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Chapter 6 - General Preliminaries To Buddhist Practices

1. Understand the impermanence of worldly engagements—even worldly success is only temporary and problems of life such as aging, sickness and death are inevitable. With a keen awareness of impermanence one is no longer eager to devote himself fully to worldly pursuits.

2. Understand the preciousness of the rest of one"s lifetime—one has only an uncertain amount of time left, not knowing when it will end; this span of time can be used for Buddhist practice so that one may be ultimately liberated and eventually help all sentient beings become liberated. With such an appreciation of the remaining lifetime, one will devote himself to diligently practicing Buddha"s teachings.

3. Do no evil, practice all good deeds, observe Buddhist rules of conduct, and purify one"s mind. Discipline oneself so that even minor acts of misconduct are avoided; practice kindness, generosity and tolerance even at the expense of one"s convenience. The key point of observing Buddhist rules of conduct is to free oneself from worldly entanglements and to devote oneself to the service of all sentient beings, especially to work toward their ultimate liberation. A simple yet effective method to purify one"s mind is to form the habit of chanting a Buddha"s name or a mantra.

It is important to express admiration for others" good deeds in public and reserve constructive criticism for exchange of opinions in private. In this way people who try to do good will be encouraged and find it easier to do so. By refraining from criticism in public we are avoiding misunderstandings, rash judgments and hard feelings, and will be acting in the awareness that we all make mistakes.

Before we judge others we should reflect on our qualification to do so. Realizing the lack of relevant knowledge on our part will keep us humble and keep the world in peace. Being humble will keep us away from unnecessary and inconsequential controversies. Being humble will purify our minds and leave us with only one way to proceed—the path of active and constructive service.

We as Buddhists should not adopt an antagonistic attitude toward other religions, which teach love and altruism. Compared with people who hurt others or do not do good, believers of a religion that teaches love of mankind are very precious indeed. We should welcome opportunities to exchange ideas with them in a harmonious atmosphere.

4. Sincerely wish all sentient beings to be free from suffering, attain happiness, and reach ultimate liberation; and carry out such great wishes by devoting oneself to Buddhist practice and service. Buddhist service is not limited to formal activities, which carry such a banner; it is equally important to be humble, simple, tolerant, generous, peaceful, mindful and caring in daily activities. The spreading of Buddhism is not limited to providing lectures, publications, and ceremonies; it is equally important to transmit the spirit of compassion and wisdom through our worldly endeavors and our daily prayers and dedication of merits. The teaching of Buddha will not be forced on anyone. The teachings will be followed by people who have come to appreciate their value and preserved by sincere followers for all generations to come.

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