Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Mindfulness of the body—two meditations

Mindfulness of the body—two meditations

A series of teachings on the four establishments of mindfulness given at Kunsanger North retreat center near Moscow, Russia, May 5-8, 2016. The teachings are in English with Russian translation.

  • Explanation of the recitations
    • Refuge and bodhicitta prayer
    • The four immeasurables
  • The purpose of practicing mindfulness of the body
  • Imagining the body as a skeleton, three ways to meditate
  • Meditation on the 32 parts of the body
  • Seeing the body realistically and developing renunciation

The four establishments of mindfulness retreat 03 (download)

Yesterday we talked about having the visualization of the Buddha in front, surrounded by the buddhas and bodhisattvas, looking at us with great pleasure, acceptance, and compassion, and ourself surrounded by all the sentient beings, and we’re leading them in doing the recitations.

Refuge and the four immeasurables

The first thing we do is take refuge and generate bodhicitta. This verse, or some variety of refuge and bodhicitta, comes at the beginning of all our practices. The purpose is so that we can affirm and get clear what our spiritual path is and who our spiritual guides are. We’re taking refuge. The chief refuge is in the Dharma, which is the last two of the four truths: true cessations and true paths. When we actualize those in our mind, then we’re liberated. We see the Buddha as the one who taught the Dharma and the Arya sangha as the ones who have realized the ultimate nature of reality. The sangha we take refuge in are those beings, whether they’re monastic or lay, who have that realization of the ultimate nature of phenomena.

I don’t know about here [in Russia], but often in my country and in the European countries that I just came from, the word sangha is often used to refer to anybody who goes to a Buddhist center. That’s not the traditional use of the word sangha, and it’s also very confusing. Because people come in and say, “You take refuge in the sangha, like all these people.” Then you go, “Well, I don’t know. That one’s sleeping with somebody else’s wife, and that one is taking drugs, and that one is involved in a dirty business deal, and I’m supposed to take refuge in these people?” What do you think? Are you taking refuge in those people? Can they lead you to full awakening? Can they even lead you to an upper rebirth? No. They’ll lead you to some bad business deals, to a drug/alcohol problem, and maybe a divorce also.

So, we’ve got to be very clear. The sangha we take refuge in are those beings who have that realization of emptiness, who have concentrative powers, and who have good ethical conduct. There’s the symbol, the representative of the Arya sangha that we take refuge in, which is a community of four fully ordained monastics. So, it’s not just one monastic. Because there’s a special energy that happens when there’s four or more fully ordained people who can do the different Vinaya rituals. That community represents the Arya sangha, but they don’t necessarily have the realization of emptiness. Those people are trying to keep good ethical conduct so they will lead you in the right way. That’s the first thing [in which] we take refuge.

Then, we generate bodhicitta. Refuge is affirming what spiritual path we’re taking, and bodhicitta is why we’re taking that path. We’re not following that path to be famous or to have people give us offerings or to have a whole group of disciples trotting around after us. We’re following that path so that we can attain full awakening for the benefit of every living being.

Why we’re following the dharma path is so important. If we have the wrong motivation, we’re going to get some upside-down result. Since we’re Mahayana practitioners, we really want to affirm that we’re not practicing the path even for our own liberation, but we’re aiming for full awakening so that we can really make a positive contribution to leading all other sentient beings out of samsara, too. There’s no room for the eight worldly concerns. That’s why it’s important at the very beginning, refuge and bodhicitta.

And, I should say, that when you take refuge, it’s something that gradually increases as you practice more and more. Tomorrow afternoon we’ll do the refuge ceremony for people who want to do that. The refuge ceremony is like a beginning. Then, as you keep practicing, your feeling of connection to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha increases. I can say this from my personal experience. I took refuge in 1975, and what I understood then and what I understand now, big difference. So, it really grows the more we practice.

Then we do the four immeasurables, which help us increase our bodhicitta. Here, we start out with, “May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes,” and that is love. That’s what love is. That’s what we’re aiming for—just wishing others happiness and its causes. Like I said in the talks in Moscow, love doesn’t mean we have a whole checklist of how nice people must be to us before we care about them. When we say we want sentient beings to have happiness and its causes, then we also must think about what does happiness mean? What are the causes of happiness? We’re not just wishing that sentient beings have four of the eight worldly concerns. “May you be rich, may everybody praise you, may you have a good reputation, may you have sense pleasure.” That’s limited if that’s the happiness we’re wishing for sentient beings. Sometimes people get those things and they’re more unhappy. I always say, once you have a car, then sometimes you go to car hell when your car doesn’t work, and once you get a computer, then you go to computer hell when your computer doesn’t work.

So, you’ve got to be careful what you’re wishing people for happiness. Sometimes you say, “Oh, may you find the perfect person to marry.” Then they wind up quarreling, fighting, and hurting each other, and then you go, “Oh, what did I wish them?”

The kind of happiness that we want to wish sentient beings is the happiness that comes through spiritual realizations. The happiness that comes from having a balanced mind that’s free of clinging attachment. The happiness that comes from having compassion and not giving way to anger. Because the happiness that comes through gaining spiritual realizations is something you can take with you everywhere. If your realizations are really solid, then no matter what’s going on around you, you can still be happy. Whereas if you wish somebody, “Oh, may you be super-rich,” then maybe they’re happy being super-rich for a while. But then maybe they lose it all and are super-poor and super-unhappy.

I remember, maybe it was back in 2008, when there was a recession, and there was a man in Germany who was an executive in some, I forget which car company, one of the big ones, and he was a very wealthy executive. The stock market went down, and this man was so miserable that he killed himself.

The second immeasurable, “May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes,” that’s compassion. So, again, compassion is simply the wish for beings to be free of suffering and its causes. Compassion doesn’t have to be super emotional, like, “Oh, you poor thing! I feel so sorry for you! I pity you! Poor thing!” That is not compassion. Compassion also doesn’t mean you become the world’s doormat and everything everybody does you just say, “Well, yeah, that’s fine.” They say, “I want to go kill somebody,” and you think, “Well, that’s okay. I have compassion, it’s fine.” Compassion doesn’t mean that you let yourself be harmed. Like in the case of domestic violence, a man is beating his wife, it’s not compassion if she goes, “Oh, sweetheart, I really love you. I have compassion for you. You have such a bad temper. You beat me up last night, look at my black eye. You can beat me up again tonight. Then I’ll have matching black eyes.” No, he hits you, you say, “Ciao! Bye! Hope you get better. I’m not hanging around, fellah!” Because there’s no reason to put up with that.

Compassion also doesn’t mean that we go around fixing everybody else’s problems. “Oh, you have a problem? Well, do this and then do this, and then do this and then do that.” Like, in my country, they have newspaper columns where people write in for advice. Do you have those here?

Translator: No, but we hear about American ones.

Venerable Thubten Chodron (VTC): Oh. One is called, “Dear Abby,” but it’s not related to us [Sravasti Abbey]. The other one is, “Ann Landers,” which sounds a lot like “ani-la,” what they sometimes call nuns, but that’s not related to us either. So, it doesn’t mean that we go around meddling and fixing everybody else’s problems.

Compassion is a feeling, a motivation on our behalf. If we act with compassion, then we must really think, “What is a good way to help this person?” Sometimes, the kindest thing you can do to somebody is say, “No.” Sometimes that’s really the kindest thing. For example, if you have a relative who drinks vodka, he has vodka for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and he’s asking you to borrow some money. Is it wise to lend him some money? “Oh, poor you! You haven’t had vodka since last night. You’re suffering. I have compassion. Let me give you some money, go buy a big bottle.” Pretty stupid, huh? In that case, it’s compassionate to be very clear: “No, I am not giving you any money. If you want to go to a detox center, I’ll help you get there, but I’m not going to encourage your bad behavior.” To be compassionate in that way you must have a very strong mind, because sometimes the other person gets mad at you. “What? You won’t give me any money? You’re my brother, you’re my sister. Come on, I’m just going to go buy some bread.” You have to stick with, “No. That’s not going to work.”

The third immeasurable—“May all sentient beings never be separated from sorrowless bliss”—that is joy. It means we rejoice in others’ virtues, in their talents, in their opportunities. It’s the opposite of jealousy. When we’re jealous, we don’t want others to have their happiness, we want them to suffer, and we want the happiness. We call it “burning with jealousy.” Like your old boyfriend or girlfriend, who you broke up with, when they start dating somebody else . . . It’s very interesting. You broke up with them and went on to do something else, but they’re not allowed to date anybody else. They’re supposed to pine after you forever. “He was so wonderful. I miss him.” Jealousy. It burns us up, it’s awful, isn’t it? I think it’s the most painful. I think jealousy is more painful than anger, personally.

We can also be jealous of other people in the Dharma center. “Oh, this one is such a good meditator. They can sit still for so long without moving, and I can’t do that.” Or, “Look, the teacher looks at that person, the teacher never looks at me.” And we get so jealous.

I used to get jealous. Oh my goodness, it was awful. Sometimes my teacher would invite people to go to his room and do morning practice together with him. He’d invite a small group of people, and I was in charge of leading a Dharma course, so I couldn’t go, because I had to lead the Dharma course. I was so jealous that they got to go, and I didn’t. I wanted to be there so badly. They got to go, and I didn’t. I didn’t realize that probably some of them were jealous of me because I got to lead the course. But I didn’t see my opportunity as something wonderful. We have an expression: “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” So, “The chanting is more beautiful on the other side of the meditation hall.” Same thing. We get jealous of our Dharma friends.

The fourth immeasurable is “May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free of bias, attachment, and anger.” That’s immeasurable equanimity. Think about it: wouldn’t it be nice if nobody played favorites? Wouldn’t it be nice if you weren’t attached to some people and had bad feelings about other people, but rather you had equal, open-hearted, caring concern for everybody? Wouldn’t that be nice? Think of how many problems would cease to exist in our world if people had equanimity, let alone love, compassion, and joy.

Imagine all countries having equanimity for all other countries. What would the newspapers write about? That would be quite remarkable, wouldn’t it? Or maybe if all the ethnic and racial groups had equanimity, not favoring some over others. Then all the different groups of people could get along well. That would be nice, huh? I always think that we should get some of the political leaders in a Dharma course, to learn about love, compassion, equanimity, and joy. I can daydream.

Let’s do the recitations now, with the visualization, trying to generate the different feelings that are described in the verses, and then go into some silent meditation. [Chanting.]

Take a moment and recall your bodhicitta motivation to make sure that what we’re doing is for the benefit of all living beings in the long term.

Mindfulness of the body

Okay, we’ll continue. This time we’ll start talking specifically about mindfulness of the body.

This first meditation is done to help free our mind from desire. In that way, it contributes to wisdom, to concentration, and to ethical conduct, because desire disturbs our ethical conduct, our concentration, and our wisdom.

This meditation has three ways to do it. We’ll start with the easiest way. It’s a meditation where we imagine skeleton[s]. You start out, sitting here on the cushion, and you imagine at the center of your brow there’s a hole that goes down to the bone so that there’s no flesh in the hole. The hole is about the size of the tip of your thumb. You visualize that hole. That’s where the flesh has gone. You imagine that it gets bigger, so the flesh falls away from your whole skull, and everything inside your skull falls away so that there’s just the bone left. So, the area without flesh keeps getting larger and larger, starting at the center of your brow. The area expands to include your whole head, and then it progresses down your body. All the skin and muscles on the outside, and then your organs and tissue on the inside, everything just vanishes, leaving your skeleton.

So, you’re left with your skeleton, and then you imagine your skeleton gets larger and larger. It fills the room, then it is as big as the earth, and then as big as the universe. Just a huge skeleton. Then you remain in concentration on that image of this enormous skeleton that is you. After you’ve stayed in concentration like that for a while, then you imagine that the skeleton slowly shrinks until it’s normal size to what you are right now. That’s the beginning stage of it. For beginners, you stop at that point.

For the next step you begin in the same way—the hole is at your brow, it gets bigger, the tissue falls away, until there’s only your skeleton. The skeleton becomes big, like the universe. Then the skeleton shrinks again to normal size. Then you think that your flesh begins to re-appear on the skeleton. You first start with your feet—imagine the muscles, the tissue, everything appears on your feet; then go up your legs and your calf. Flesh and things start coming back, on your arms and legs—the flesh, the muscles. Then all your internal organs are re-appearing. It’s all re-appearing until you get to the top of your skull. So, the muscle and tissue and internal stuff has re-appeared up to there, then you leave it bare, just the bone. Then you focus on the bone of the top part of your skull. That’s the second way of practicing it.

When you get more familiar with that, then you do the whole thing again, starting with all the tissue falling away. Then there’s just the skeleton, then the skeleton getting big, the skeleton decreasing to normal size, and the tissue re-appearing. Except this time the tissue and the internal organs all re-appear, except for that original small hole in your mid-brow, and that remains just where you have the skull. It’s quite a potent meditation for getting us to look at exactly what this body is. It’s bones, it’s flesh, it’s internal organs, that’s it. It gives us a feeling for what happens after death, when all the soft tissue decays and only the bones remain.

This meditation has effect on the mind that thinks, “Oh, my body is so beautiful, and other people’s bodies are so desirable.” It cools that desire quickly. It makes us see that really, at the end of the day, what you’re left with is bones, and even the bones disintegrate at some point. It really diminishes our attachment to the body—our own body and attachment other people’s bodies. When you think about it, when we die, we don’t want to be attached to this body, because there’s no choice at the time of death. We must separate from this body. If we’re very attached to our body—“Oh, I love my body, and it brings me so much pleasure, and it’s so beautiful, and it’s so gorgeous, and I love this body”—then at the time of death, there’s a lot of anguish separating from the body. There’s a lot of craving for the body, and that provokes clinging. Then we cling to have another body, and that makes the karma ripen that throws us into the next rebirth.

Now, somebody may say, “Isn’t that kind of gross, thinking about just bones, skeletons?” I don’t think it’s gross, it’s realistic. It’s just what’s there. Anyway, do you have Halloween here? No?

Translator: No, but we hear about it.

VTC: You hear about it, yes. When you’re a little kid, you want to dress up as a skeleton. Dress up as a skeleton, which has nothing on it. So, it’s very effective. It really changes how you look at your body.

The purpose here is not to hate our body. The purpose is just to have a realistic view of our body. An unrealistic view of the body is what we usually have when we watch all the people go by, and it’s like, “Oh, that guy is really good looking.” So, that’s how we usually are, isn’t it? We’re checking everybody out. Who is good looking, who are we attracted to, are they together with somebody else, or are they available? Or, even if they’re together with somebody else, are they willing to sneak out with me? This desire causes us a lot of problems, doesn’t it? You’re trying to study for your exams, and your mind is off visualizing somebody, lying on the beach, umm, fill in the details. It’s like, “Oh, what was I supposed to be studying here?” You went off to la-la land, dreaming about somebody else. Okay? So, this helps us settle down. That’s one meditation, and you’ll be doing it this evening.

Parts of the body

Let’s do another one. There’s one on the corpse, but I’ll do one that’s easier first. Again, the purpose is to get us to see the body realistically and to cut off desire. The Buddha, in the sutras, talked about 31 parts of the body, and we added another one—the brain. It was added later to make 32. You meditate on these 32 parts of the body. These 32 parts are divided into six groups, and most of the groups have five. What’s interesting is when you ordain in the Theravada tradition, the teacher teaches you this at your ordination ceremony, because this kind of desire is the biggest hinderance that people face in keeping their ordination.

The first group of five: head hair, body hair, nail, teeth, skin. So you memorize it – head hair, body hair, nail, teeth, and skin. Here, we’re starting with the outside of the body. The first one was head hair. So, you imagine the head hair. Here’s all the head hair, and you put the scalp with the hair right there in front of you. You just take the scalp off of the head. What do you think? Somebody who you considered beautiful, and now you have their head hair, and it’s sitting there right in front of you. Beautiful long hair. What do you think? It’s the same hair as what was on the person before, and now it’s right there in front of you.

Before I ordained, I had very long hair, down to here; it was beautiful. At least, I thought it was beautiful, but that was because it was mine. So, I had my long hair, and then at some point I decided I wanted to ordain. Then it was like, “Oh, if I ordain, I have to cut my hair.” One part of my mind went, “Cut my hair? After it took me so many years to grow it down to my waist? I don’t want to do that.” So then I started asking myself, “Well, what, exactly, are you so attached to in having long hair?” “Well, it makes me beautiful.” So then, I imagined, “Well, after I die, there’s my corpse in the coffin, with this beautiful hair.” I visualized this body in the coffin, with this long hair, with everybody walking by going, “Oh, she had such beautiful hair.” After that, I was able to cut my hair, no problem. It was funny. When I did cut my hair, it was a real offering from me to the Buddha. Because it involved the giving up of some attachment. I took some of the hair, and I was in Nepal at the time, at Kopan, and I was sharing a dorm room with some other women, and I put the hair on the altar as my offering to the Buddha. One of my roommates went to offer something nice at the altar and went, “Eww! Who put their hair on the altar, it’s so dirty!” At that point I had to say it was mine. So, head hair, when it’s just in front of us, not so gorgeous.

Then, you take body hair—somebody’s hair growing on arms, on their legs, under their arms—you put it right in front of you. Is that gorgeous? Let’s get rid of that; not so beautiful. How about nails? Somebody’s nails, when they’re attached, and they’re long, they’re painted. I just read that somebody developed some kind of nail polish that tastes like mint; so you can lick your nails. And the Tibetan monks, I don’t know why, but there’s some status if you can grow the nail of your pinky long, they try to do that.

Audience: It might be coming from China where high-profile people would grow their nails so that they couldn’t do any manual work.

VTC: Hmm, okay. Well, imagine somebody’s beautiful nails—you take them off, there they are, right there in front of you. What do you think? Are they as beautiful as when they’re on the fingers?

Head hair, body hair, nails, teeth. Remember, “Your teeth are like pearls,”—the person you’re attracted to, their teeth are like pearls? You take all their pearls out of their mouth, and you line them up in front of you. You love that person’s smile. When they smile at you, you melt. So, you take their teeth and put them in front of you. Then what do you think?

Head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin. You take all their skin off, this beautiful person that you are soooo attracted to, and you just peel off all their skin. It’s just hanging there, and you plop it on the table in front of you. Then, what do you think about their skin? Is it so soft to touch, so beautiful to look at? Again, it’s like, “Eww!” isn’t it?

Now, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Because when all those things are arranged in a certain format, on top of the skeleton, we think the person is good-looking. But when we ask ourselves, “What exactly is so good-looking?” and we put all those different things out on the table, what is so good-looking? Not much.

Then, the next group of five. So, we had head hair, body hair, nail, teeth, skin. Muscles, tendons, bones, marrow, and kidney. So, again, you take them one by one. The muscles. You’re attracted to somebody, they have a very good physique, with good muscles. Then you take the muscles and put them in front of you. Okay, how about the tendons? Are they any better? The tendons that attach the muscles to the bone, you put them out in front. Or you take their bones, because the bones give the structure to the body. So you might think somebody has a very good physique, a very good-shaped body, then you take all their bones and you put them here. After that, you suck the marrow out of the bones and put it there. Then, the top of the cake is the kidneys. Anything beautiful there?

Okay, shall we go on?

Then, heart, liver, connective tissue, spleen, and lungs. Connective tissue covers the muscles. Again, you put the heart out there, somebody’s liver, the connective tissue, the spleen, their two lungs, and you look at it, and you say, “Hmm, what’s so attractive there? What is it that I want to embrace?”

You do this in your meditation. I’m going quickly here, but in your meditation, you take out each one of these things and really look at it and examine it. What’s its color? What’s its shape? What does it feel like when you touch it? Somebody who you consider very attractive, do you want to touch their liver? How about their spleen?

Then, the next series, maybe you want to touch one of these—their intestines, or mesentery, which is all sorts of supporting membranes in your gut. Then the gorge, the contents of the stomach. Feces, and then the brain. Are any of those particularly attractive?

Let’s try beyond that. Then we have bile, phlegm, puss, blood, sweat, and fat. We’re still looking for the beauty. Okay, we’ve got to keep looking. The last group is tears, grease—which means like the bottom of your feet, that kind of sweat that comes from the bottom of your feet—spit, then snot—when they blow their nose—then the oil in their joints that facilitates movement, and pee-pee.

These are the 32 things that the body is made of. In our meditation we mindfully examine each organ and put it in front, really look at it, and get acquainted with what actually this body is. You do it in forward order, then you do it in backwards order. The thing is, no matter how we look at the body, we’re not finding any beauty in it, we’re not finding anything that is particularly wonderful in this body.

Then we think, “I took this body. Why did I take a body that’s full of all this junk?” Ignorance. I wanted a body, my mind craved for the previous one, it clung to having a new one, and here I am. The question is, do I want to keep being deceived by this body, think that it’s beautiful, and desire it? Or do I want to counteract the ignorance that makes me take this kind of body to start with?

When you meditate like this, it helps you develop renunciation of cyclic existence. Because who wants to keep getting born again and again in this kind of body, and chasing after other people’s bodies? That’s what we do, isn’t it? We do belong in the animal realm. So, then you ask yourself, what do I really want to do with my life? Do I want to keep doing this or not? Or does my life have a higher purpose?

These are two very effective meditations on mindfulness of the body. It’s called mindfulness because we’re holding those different things in our mind and not getting distracted from them, and because this kind of mindfulness always comes together with wisdom. So, by meditating either on the skeleton or on the different parts of the body, then we generate wisdom. We begin to generate the wisdom that asks, “Do I want to continue being born in cyclic existence, or do I want to get out?” And what about other sentient beings? How about helping them get out so they don’t have to keep revolving, taking this kind of body again and again.

Questions? Comments?

Translator: Because she’s an artist, while doing this meditation, she doesn’t feel disgust for the specific parts, because artists are taught to work with these. So she’s looking at a person, for example, to see that they have a specific skull formation and so on. Because the artists have been taught to think about how the body is proportionate in a specific way, for an artist, these things do not cause disgust. And so, she was struggling with this in her meditation. And eventually she found out that the way to still have this meditation be useful is by thinking that when the body is dead, there’s nobody inhabiting it. So then there’s no interest in the body, because why would it be interesting if it’s not inhabited by a consciousness? Another way to make it effective for her was understanding that there’s really no basis for attraction anyway, because even if you were attracted to a consciousness, what is consciousness?

VTC: Yes, that’s good. And just remember, you are not inherently an artist. So, you don’t have to look at life through an artist’s eyes all the time. Because maybe there’s some distortion in how artists are taught to look at the body. So, you also want to remember that you’re a Buddhist practitioner, and look at the body according to that way, too.

Audience: In the fourth quintet—mesentery—that’s not diaphragm, is it?

VTC: I’m not a doctor. Anybody a doctor? It might include the diaphragm, but all the other tissue in the middle there.

Translator: We’ll just look it up.

VTC: Yes, because we looked it up also and got some different variations on what it was. But it was basically the inner tissue filling your gut.

Translator: Yes, we had the correct translation, so people might look it up. It’s what the intestines [are] attached to.

VTC: Right, yes.

Audience: Two small questions. First question—how should people who have medical education go about this, because they have touched all the organs, and it doesn’t prevent them from being attracted to people.

VTC: Yes, it’s the same thing as with the artist, when you can look at things from different perspectives. When you’re in your medical mode, you look at it on one way, when you’re in your Buddhist mode, you look it another way, when you’re in your artistic mode, you look it in another way.

Audience: The second question—if we would eliminate all the attachments, all sympathy/antipathy towards the bodies, how would we, as Buddhists, select partners for procreation?

VTC: Yes, this question always comes up. It usually ends with, “And then the world population would cease because nobody would have babies.” Yes, that’s how people usually end the question. To which I say, we’ll deal with that problem when it happens.

So, this meditation is primarily taught to monastics, clearly, because we’re celibate. But I think it’s also helpful for lay people so that you can have a more realistic view of the body and what it really is. Because like I said, do we want to die being attached to this thing? Do you want to spend your whole life checking out everybody else’s body and trying to make your own body look good? We can spend a whole lot of time trying to make this body look good, and then being attracted to other people’s bodies. Then you have no time for dharma practice.

Anything else?

Audience: Yesterday, we talked about clinging to the body, feelings, mind, phenomena. And among the phenomena, examples were given of attachment and confidence or faith.

VTC: We didn’t talk about clinging to all four of those.

Translator: Right, but I’m just translating the question.

Audience: With regards to confidence, for example, what if it is confidence in purification practices? Should we let go of that, too?

VTC: Something got mixed up there. We weren’t talking about attachment to these four, in the sense of, “I’ve got to have it.” We were talking about how we misconceive these to be the “I” or the abode of the “I,” or something like that. But clearly, things like faith and wisdom, these are good qualities that we want to encourage in ourselves and in others.

VTC: Anything else? Okay, then we’ll dedicate, and you’ll do the meditations in the evening.

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.