Commentary on Heart Spoon (II of II)
By Geshe Lama Konchog

(May & June 2002 Newsletter)

Concerning the practice of Lamrim, if we follow the tradition of Lama Serlingpa, we have to engage in the six preparatory practices either in a condensed or elaborate way. When we recite the refuge and seven-limb prayer, we should not be merely reciting. Instead, we should put them into practice. Gaining experience into their meanings is important. If we merely sit in meditation posture with closed eyes and say we are meditating, then even monkey is capable of doing! For example, while we are saying the refuge prayer, we should not just visualise those around ourselves, but also the refuge object and infinite beings surrounding ourselves. While we are doing so, we should not think that all beings are having a party. Instead, we should visualise them in human form and in a pitiful situation having their respective sufferings. We then take refuge and seek the guidance of the Triple Gem for protection.

Refuge Prayer
Though the refuge prayer is very short, it contains causal and resultant refuge. Seeing all sentient beings as pitiful, we generate strong wish at that moment and go for heartfelt refuge to the Triple Gem with great compassion. Then we visualise infinite lights radiating from the refuge object and actualise the two levels of refuge.

Having completed the refuge practice, with strong compassion and bodhicitta, the wish to liberate them right at the moment, we visualise a replica of the refuge object dissolving into ourselves. Not only are all the obscurations of our practice on the path removed, but our flesh and blood are also purified. Then we imagine ourselves transformed into Buddha Shakyamuni and reflect upon the visualised object being lack of inherent existence. This is called the practice of taking the resultant refuge into the path.

However, we should not imagine ourselves to be something very solid, like a clay statue, but in the nature of light. To bring benefits to all sentient beings, we visualise lights and nectar radiating to the six realms of existence. We visualise light rain showers from our body extinguishing all the fire in the hot hells; shining sunlight melting all the ice in the cold hells; offering food and drinks satisfying all the hunger and thirst of the hungry ghosts; granting vessels for those who need to cross the river; spiritual guides for those who lack spiritual guidance. We then continue to radiate lights from our body until all sentient beings are established in the fully enlightened state. This is what we meant by the "resultant mind generation" or " taking the result into the path". The Nyingma tradition calls this the "path liberating from samsara". So, if we practise refuge in this way, it becomes a real practice.

Four Immeasurables
Although it is not directly specified in the preparatory practices, we need to meditate on the four immeasurables. When we do this practice, we will find that it is not something real and that we are unable to actualise what we are imagining. However, the yoga of the four immeasurables is a way for strengthening the Mahayana mind generation. We will realise why others and ourselves are still wandering in samsara, which is because we still have the partial attitude of hatred and attachment. This kind of thought produces our future sufferings. If we do not want suffering, we have to destroy attachment and hatred, and we have to meditate on the four immeasurables.

Seven-Limb Prayer
After that, we go on to visualise the merit field in an extensive way. A concise way is to visualise Buddha Shakyamuni and think that he personifies the entire merit field and resembles the Triple Gem. The physical body of the Buddha is the Sangha; his speech is the Dharma; and his mind is the Buddha. With this visualised object in front of us, we may wonder why we and others still have not reached enlightenment. The reason for this is that because we have yet to purify our obscurations, to accumulate merits and to increase our merits. So we have to bear in mind these three prerequisites when doing the seven-limb practice.

Concerning prostration, the text said, "I bow with my three doors to the Triple Gem." When we make physical prostration, we multiply our bodies equal to the amount of atoms in the universe and prostrate to the holy beings. When we do speech prostration, we recite the prayers to purify our negativities of speech. Regarding mind prostration, there are various ways that we can apply. We can imagine that we have many bodies and generate different wishes within our mind to purify the respective negativities. In order to achieve enlightenment, we depend on the kindness of the sentient beings and the Buddhas. It is based on this reason that we prostrate to Buddhas feet in order to eliminate our pride.

The second limb is making offering. This includes external, internal and suchness offerings, and all these serve as eliminating our miserliness.

The third limb is purification. So far we have been talking about three of the seven-limb practice. In terms of their power of purification, accumulation and increase, prostration (the first limb) and purification (the third limb) have the power to cleanse our negativities, while making offerings (the second limb) and offering mandala help us to accumulate merit. Rejoicing (the fourth limb) serves to increase our merit.

The (fifth) limb of requesting our guru not to pass away and making supplication has the power to prolong our life span. If we request our guru to turn the wheel of Dharma (the sixth limb), we can purify the negativity of abandoning the path, criticising different tradition and abandoning Dharma friends.

The last limb, dedication, reminds us that every single virtue that we have accumulated must be dedicated to achieving enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.

Mandala Offering
After offering the seven-limb prayer, we then offer the mandala with the request of the three great purposes. On one level, we pray that initially our mind will become the Dharma, then the Dharma in our mind becomes the path and this path will reach completion. On the other level, we pray that all the obstacles on the meditation on the path will be removed, we will gain all the great realisations on the path, from guru devotion up to the unification, and that we will be protected from all internal and external obscurations while training on the path.

Subsequent to this, we make an extensive supplication, but this is optional. Following this, we invoke our guru on our crown. Our guru then introduces us to the merit field, telling them that we are going to perform the entire meditation on the Lamrim path.

After finishing one part of the meditation, we visualise the entire merit field radiating lights and nectar, and imagine that we receive the realisation of that particular meditation.

However, we should not spend all of our time on the initial steps in one session. We should keep moving on and spend lesser time on those topics that we are familiar with. First, we should do glance meditation and then go on to do extensive meditation on one specific topic, and Heart Spoon is composed for this purpose.

In short, if we relate our daily meditation to "the Foundation of All Good Qualities", we will receive immense benefits.

To conclude, we ought to remove all negativities of our mind and increase the positive side. Both the speaker and the listeners of the teaching should bear this in mind.

Teaching given in Hong Kong in September 1999.