A Golden Ring

An Introduction to Buddhist Meditation

by Dr. Yutang Lin | 21,073 words

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Chapter 7 - Special Preliminaries To Serious Meditation Practice

1. Serious practitioners should renounce all worldly involvements and devote their time and energy fully to Buddhist practice. Very advanced practitioners may be able to fully integrate worldly activities with the Dharma and hence need no formal renunciation. Nevertheless, in general, due to our very limited resources of time and energy and the unpredictability of the turn of events, it is advisable for devotees to renounce worldly engagements as much as possible.

Achievement on the Buddhist path usually takes years of devoted practice because the minimum goal is to transcend transmigration. Furthermore, the proper motivation of a Buddhist practitioner should include offering the fruits of his achievement to helping others realize Enlightenment. Therefore, it is very important for sincere aspirants to devote themselves fully to Buddhist practice as early in life as possible.

2. It is very desirable to have a teacher who has some experiences of realization. Following the guidance of such a teacher, a serious practitioner should go into retreat to practice meditation. A smooth and progressive course of meditation practice would ensue under such favorable conditions.

One may begin with short retreats, making good use of a weekend or a three day vacation. One should set a physical boundary for the retreat and stay within it the whole time. One should engage in no worldly activities, remain speechless and see no one. One may eat and sleep as normal. One will do only Buddhist practices such as chanting, prostration, circumambulation and meditation, and read only materials related to Dharma. One may cook for himself or have others bring food to him without meeting him. One may leave notes asking for supply of necessities but the number of such notes should be minimal. One enters the retreat in late afternoon and comes out in the morning. After having become familiar with short retreats one may gradually conduct longer and longer retreats.

The actual process of finding a good teacher and becoming an accepted disciple depends on opportunities and personal effort. Although it may seem like one is trying to find a needle in the haystack, based on my own experience I would say that as long as one is sincere in devoting himself to working for the Enlightenment of all sentient beings, he will have such an opportunity in due course. All Buddhas and holy beings will help whomever has such a Bodhicitta. One will survive all tests and demanding circumstances by maintaining such a Bodhicitta.

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