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Setting your motivation

This retreat introduction is part of the continuing series of Bodhisattva Breakfast Corner talks.

We are beginning a retreat this weekend. I just want to welcome you all to the Abbey.

It’s always good when we begin a new activity to spend a moment on our motivation. This is a practice that actually we do every day in the morning to renew our motivation, start the day, and so we make a very strong aspiration for three things.

  • The first one is, today as much as possible, I won’t harm anybody.
  • Today as much as possible, I will be of benefit and service,
  • Today I will also hold very clear in my mind the bodhicitta motivation to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.

We hold those three motivations very strongly in our mind each day, and if you start out the day like that, then it influences the rest of your day because when different thoughts come up and you’re about to say something mean to somebody or you are about to be very selfish or whatever, then you remember your motivation in the morning, and it helps you recognize the negative thought and release it and let it go and then to cultivate your good motivation towards yourself and towards others.

Just introducing you to a very precious practice that is very good to do every day when you wake up. If you forget it when you wake up, have a Post-it on your bathroom mirror. That way, you’ll remember. Better than looking at your face and your pimples. [laughter] Or put it on the refrigerator. Better than rereading the coupon ten times. It’s something so that you’ll remember and generate that virtuous motivation.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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