Ceaselessly hearing, pondering and meditating

“At this time when the difficult to gain ship of leisure and fortune has been obtained, ceaselessly hearing, pondering and meditating day and night in order to liberate oneself and others from the ocean of cyclic existence is the Bodhisattva’s practice.”

~Ngulchu Thogme Zangpo, from The Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices (trans. H.E. Garchen Rinpoche)

3 thoughts on “Ceaselessly hearing, pondering and meditating

  1. well, some of us may not have arrived yet at the place where ‘the difficult-to-gain ship of leisure and fortune has been obtained,’ and i don’t know about CEASELESSLY hearing, pondering, and meditating day and night! seems a bit extreme. unless this is just a dramatic way of urging practitioners to keep ‘the view’ front and center at all times (insofar as that is humanly possible!).

    1. check leisure = also translated as “good fortune” or the “endowment” of not having to spend all our waking hours providing for the basic necessities. So if you have a kitchen and can turn the tap the get both hot water hot enough to clean with, and cold water clean enough to drink ~ then by historic and current worldly standards = you got leisure.

      Ceaselessly gets a bit closer. Perhaps the question might better be posed as: If we are not contemplating or acting upon thoughts of love and compassion then we’d be better off putting that in check.

      I read the quote not so much as a commandment but as a prayer = something to aspire to rather than an edict on how we don’t measure up.

  2. “Leisure and fortune” are traditional and technical terms (and how would you know that?!) referring to 8 kinds of freedoms or opportunities and 10 kinds of good fortune or advantages that give us the chance to hear and practice the Dharma–the components of a “precious human birth.”

    The “freedoms” or leisures/opportunities are traditionally defined as:
    1-3: Not being born in the realm of hell, as a hungry ghost or an animal, where you can’t hear, understand or practice the Dharma;
    4: Not being born as a god, where you can’t practice because you are absorbed in blissful ignorance;
    5: Not being born in a place where there are no teachings (i.e. as a “barbarian”);
    6: Not having “wrong views” that would prevent you from hearing or practicing;
    7: Not being born in an eon where there was no Buddha;
    8: Not being born deaf and mute or mentally impaired.

    The 10 good fortunes are:
    1. Being born a human
    2. In a place where the Dharma is taught
    3. With sufficient mental and physical faculties
    4. Without a conflicting lifestyle that would prevent practice
    5. With (at least some) faith
    6. In an eon when a Buddha has appeared
    7. And taught (not all Buddhas choose to teach)
    8. And his teachings still exist
    9. And can be followed
    10. And there are kind-hearted spiritual friends to help.

    You got ’em, so rejoice!

    As to ceaselessly hearing, pondering and meditating, I think this comes naturally as one’s interest and desire for liberation grows, just as you find yourself repeatedly thinking about whatever it is you desire without even trying. As a practice, ceaselessly might mean (for now) “ceaselessly whenever you can.”

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