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Giving to all sentient beings

Giving to all sentient beings

The text turns to training the mind on the stages of the path of advanced level practitioners. Part of a series of teachings on the Gomchen Lamrim by Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa. Visit Gomchen Lamrim Study Guide for a full list of contemplation points for the series.

  • Comparing taking-and-giving to meditation on love and compassion
  • Offering outer and inner conditions for practice
  • Two ways of creating merit
  • Giving our possessions and virtues

Gomchen Lamrim 81: Giving to all sentient beings (download)

Contemplation points

While doing the “taking and giving” meditation below, consider some of the points Venerable Chodron taught this week:

  1. Consider the value of the taking and giving practice. Do you have resistance in your mind about its effectiveness in helping you generate good qualities? Do you tend to brush it off as just “pretending?” Explore that resistance. Can you give examples in your own life regarding how thinking about giving enabled you to be more generous in a situation? Also consider that by directing your mind in this way, it makes you closer to awakening where you will most certainly be of greater benefit to others. Does this help you work through the resistance? What other antidotes can you apply?
  2. After giving to those who have not yet attained one of the paths (hearer, solitary realizer, and bodhisattva paths), we give our body to those who have. Consider what outer and inner conditions each needs on each level of their associated paths. Transform your body into what it is they need in a way they are able to receive it. You can even imagine creating your own pure land, giving them the perfect conditions for attaining liberation and awakening. Imagine they attain their spiritual goals, achieving peace and happiness…
  3. Next, we give our body to the world environment, transforming all the faults caused by afflictions (faults like not caring for the environment because of our afflicted minds, as well as the destructive karma that ripens in our living in impure and/or inhospitable places). Imagine these places become pure lands, places free of afflictions and karma with all the conducive conditions for practicing the path. Remember, you can make your pure land any way you like, so spend some time on this.
  4. After transforming the body, we can do the same with our possessions. Consider giving your possessions away and others being happy. Remember you can transform them into anything they need, even wish fulfilling gems. Note: Doing this part of the practice can be helpful in showing us where we are still attached. Spend some time exploring and applying antidotes to attachment for your possessions if it become difficult to give certain things away, then continue offering your possessions to all beings.
  5. Finally, we give away our merit. Venerable Chodron said this can be difficult to visualize, but do your best. We can give our past, present, and future merit, so think of virtue you have created in this life, in previous lives, as well as virtue you want to create. Offer it to all beings, enabling them to have not only temporal pleasures, but in particular, all the conditions to attain liberation and awakening.

Taking and giving meditation

  1. Start with yourself.
    • Imagine the dukkha you might experience tomorrow (dukkha of pain, dukkha of change, and the pervasive dukkha of conditioning).
    • Once you have a feel for it, take it on your present self so that the person you are tomorrow doesn’t have to experience it. You can imagine the dukkha leaving your future self in the form of pollution or black light, or whatever is useful to you.
    • As you take on the dukkha in the form of pollution/black light, imagine it strikes at the self-centeredness at your own heart, like a thunderbolt, completely demolishing it (self-centeredness can appear as a black lump or dirt, etc).
    • Now think about your future self next month. You’re future self as an old person and do the same exercise…
  2. Then consider the dukkha of those you are close to using the same points as above.
  3. Next, consider the dukkha of those towards whom you feel neutral.
  4. Next, the dukkha of those you don’t like or trust.
  5. Finally, consider the dukkha of beings in all the different realms (hell, preta, animal, human, demi god, and god).
  6. Having destroyed your own self-centeredness, you have a nice open space at your heart. From there, with love, imagine transforming, multiplying, and giving your body, possessions, and merit to these beings. Imagine them being satisfied and happy. Think that they have all the circumstances conducive to attaining awakening. Rejoice that you’ve been able to bring this about.
  7. Conclusion: Feel you are strong enough to take on others’ dukkha and give them your happiness. Rejoice that you can imagine doing this, practice it as you notice and experience suffering in your daily life,  and offer prayers of aspiration to be able to actually do this.
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.