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Cultivating excellent qualities

113 Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature

Part of an ongoing series of teachings (retreat and Friday) based on the book Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, the third volume in The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron.

  • Proper way to develop compassion
  • Three factors that make the cultivation of excellent qualities
  • Clear and cognizant mind as a valid basis
  • Consistent practice to build the qualities cumulatively
  • Wisdom and reasoning increase but do not diminish the virtuous qualities
  • Views about nature of the mind and afflictions from different systems

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 113: Cultivating Excellent Qualities (download)

Contemplation points

  1. What does it mean to have compassion for ourselves in a Buddhist context? His Holiness the Dalai Lama often says that compassion must be courageous. Why is courage necessary? Consider compassion for ourselves as having a sense of acceptance for our current situation. How does that acceptance, as part of the Buddhist worldview, foster hope and change? How does it allow us to use the situation to fuel the practice?
  2. Reflect that the clear and cognizant nature of the mind is a stable basis for the cultivation of excellent qualities. Why is a stable basis necessary? How is the clear and cognizant nature of the mind a stable basis? Having a stable basis, how can you cultivate these limitless excellent qualities?
  3. Remember the mind can become habituated to excellent qualities, which can be built up cumulatively? How have you built up excellent qualities in your own mind throughout your life?
  4. Contemplate that excellent qualities can be enhanced, but never diminished by reasoning and wisdom. Why do reasoning and wisdom support the generation of good qualities?
  5. Understanding the previous three points, feel confidence arise in yourself that, with effort and training, your mind can be transformed into the mind of the buddha
  6. Consider the two facets of a moment of mind of anger, jealousy, attachment, etc: the primary consciousness and afflictive mental factor that pollutes it. Like muddy water, the adventitious afflictive mental state can be extracted from the clear and cognizant nature of the primary consciousness. Reflect on afflictions that arise in your own mind and how they are not the nature of your mind. Cultivate the aspiration to eliminate these polluted mental factors by practicing the path.
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.