Sunday Gathering - Turning the Mind Away from Samsara


Lama Dashon will take us through the importance of reflecting deeply on the four thoughts that turn the mind away from samsara.

These are essential for preparing us to go deeper into the view, meditation and conduct of the Mahamudra tradition.

We will be using Lama Shenpen’s verses as a basis from which to explore these thoughts.

Lama Dashon will bring them together with themes we explore in Discovering the Heart of Buddhism and how it intersects with this year's theme on Pranidhanas.

Please note, this teaching will not be recorded.

Lama Dashon will be using Lama Shenpen's prayer 'Turning the Mind Away from Samsara' which encapsulate the teachings on the four thoughts.  

Lama Shenpen states:

“This prayer is for focusing our minds on the importance of our practice and reminding us why we are doing it.  It is good to say it first thing each morning so that we start the day in the right frame of mind.

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition there is a practice called the ordinary preliminaries, which is sometimes also referred to as the ‘four thoughts’.

The first of these is to think about what a precious opportunity it is to be a human being, with the capacity and all the necessary conditions to be able to practise Dharma and make our lives meaningful on a day-to-day basis.

The second thought is about impermanence, reminding ourselves of how quickly that opportunity is lost.  We might even die today.  Are we ready for that?  We cannot afford to put off thinking about Dharma and trying to make our lives meaningful some time in the future.  It may be now or never, so seize the day.

The third thought is about karma.  Our volitional actions all have consequences, whether good, bad or indifferent, and these consequences continue from life to life.  Our future is in our own hands.  If we don’t want to suffer then we cannot afford to continue our negative karmic habitual patterns a day longer.  We have today to devote to Dharmic thoughts, words and actions.  So this thought is reminding us how to use our precious opportunity.   It doesn’t matter what is going on, we can still use that very situation as a step on the path to Awakening.  Sometimes simply to be patient in a difficult situation is what we need to do, because nothing purifies bad karma and accumulates good karma so powerfully as being able to forbear difficulties without becoming stuck in anger, discouragement and depression.

The forth thought is about going beyond this aim of improving our karmic lot and using the day to advance on the path to Awakening.  To Awaken we need to purify our motivation.  This means we have to have a much deeper understanding of the nature of our predicament than simply trying to improve our karma.  We have to see that as long as we do not realise the true nature of reality we are bound to the cycle of birth and death.  Only those who are beyond birth and death can lead us and keep us on the path towards that goal.  They are our sole protectors”.

(Extracts from Mandala of Sacred Space, Lama Shenpen Hookham, p64-5)