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)

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Practicing the dharma is easy

“Practicing the dharma really is very easy. At first you may have to make a little effort, but then after you realize egolessness, the lack of true existence of the person you think you are, it all becomes quite effortless and enjoyable.”

Jamgon Kongtrul III, quoted in “A Path Strewn With Flowers & Bones” by Tulku Sherdor.

3 practices for knowing your true nature

Although liberation is the natural state, in most of us it  is covered by ignorance and obscured by false concepts of who we are and what is real. That is why the wisdom lineages prescribe practices to re-awaken us to our natural freedom.

The fundamental sadhana, or spiritual discipline, for awakening to our natural freedom are the 3 practices: listening, contemplating and meditating.

Listening is hearing the teachings that point to our original freedom, and that remind us there is nothing to attain. This can include book study. But the liberation of the wisdom lineage is primarily an oral tradition and transmission. It is most  helpful to hear the teachings in person from someone who genuinely understands them. A qualified teacher of a wisdom lineage can turn language into a mirror that will reveal your original face, your face of unobstructed freedom.

Once you have heard the teachings, it is necessary for most of us to think about them and to clarify any doubts. This is contemplation. Contemplation includes wrestling with doubts, and bringing them to the teacher for clarification. Any genuine teacher will welcome the voicing of sincere questions and doubts as a sign of your intention to be free.

When doubts have been clarified, meditation on what has been understood helps the gaining of firmness in the understanding of your true nature. Even after understanding the natural condition of liberation, the mood or habit of imprisonment, the habitual feeling of lack and confusion may persist. By meditating on the truth over and over, you will become established in it so that the winds of habitual ignorance and desire can not uproot you.

These 3 practices are the primary sadhana of one who wants to be free. They are the dharma, in the sense of the path, and, as is said, they are delightful in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. Please enjoy these practices as often as you can, but remember that you are already intrinsically free, so there is absolutely nothing to gain except clarity and confidence in this truth.