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Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book
Practice Advice : Daily Practices

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at various locations (Last Updated Feb 20, 2009)

Daily Practice Advice (1)

Daily Practice Advice
Rinpoche sent the following advice on daily practice to a student, who is also an artist.

These are the practices that came out best for you:

Mandala offering – 2000

Guru yoga – every day. You can recite the nine-line, five-line, or four-line mantra.

Dorje Khadro burning practice: 200,000

Refuge practice (Sanskrit or Tibetan): 600,000

Bodhicitta practice (tong-len): 400,000

Highest yoga tantra practice: Most Secret Vajrapani. Your main deity is Gyalwa Gyatso.

Please read Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand by Pabongka Rinpoche three times. Try to have stable realizations, and continue until you do.

Daily Practice:
1) Guru devotion: You can do from five minutes up to one hour.

2) Each day, meditate on the perfect human rebirth. Go through how precious it is, according to Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand.

3) Do one meditation on emptiness every day.

4) Recite one lam-rim prayer every day (the graduated path) and hymns of realization. Read through them mindfully. This is planting the seed to enlightenment every day in your mind.

5) Tantric practice.

6) Bodhicitta practice – try to have the realizations and complete the goal.

8) Later, when you have taken the initiation, you can recite your lam-rim prayer within your sadhana. It is at the end of your deity’s long sadhana.

9) Thirty-five Buddhas prostrations: Try to do these each day.

Finish your day with:

1) Vajrasattva practice: 21 long mantras or 28 short mantras. If you do not purify negative actions, then they increase, and each day they are not purified they double; this happens each day. While reciting the mantra, practice the four remedial actions. You can get more information on this in the commentaries.

2) Rejoice in your positive actions.

3) Recite the Golden Light Sutra, even a few pages every day, for world peace and healing the sick. You can even travel with it.

4) Also, recite the Sanghata Sutra.

As a painter it is possible to combine your practice with your art, treating painting as a meditation, being in the moment, not labeling, and not feeding the ego.

Also, your parents are your most precious teachers. To be kind, you don’t have to be with them always, but be kind and patient with them. They have raised you with kindness and you would not be here without their help. They have taught you principles that have gotten you here. If you show kindness, it reflects what Buddhism has taught you, so they will not worry that you are being led by the devil. Be kind with them and don’t be agitated.

Daily Practices
A student wrote asking advice as to which daily practices to do.

My very dear Nancy,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. I checked what practices you should do for your quickest enlightenment.

The main thing is to do Six Session Guru Yoga and within that to make lam-rim prayers, before the guru absorbs into you, so you receive the blessings of the whole path to enlightenment in your heart. As you read the lam-rim prayers it is very important to not be distracted, keep your mind on what you are reading, and in this way it becomes a direct meditation on the lam-rim and leads you to enlightenment by planting seeds of the whole path to enlightenment in your mind. Every day you do this it brings you closer to enlightenment and closer to enlightening all sentient beings. So that is great! You must do it! It is so important to practice the lam-rim and to perform lam-rim meditations. This should be the most important thing. Read the lam-rim prayers three times each day and in this way train your mind in each meditation until you have stable realizations. No matter how long or how many lifetimes it takes, this should be the main focus. Train your mind in all the stages of the lam-rim from guru devotion, to perfect human rebirth, up to karma, especially impermanence and death. Keep circling like this until you have stable realizations. Also, meditate on emptiness every day, and you can also read the Heart Sutra.

The main practice should be lam-rim and second to that is tantra.

Please make your precious human rebirth most meaningful and productive by practicing the Dharma. This is a one-time opportunity to be liberated from samsara and to be able to achieve enlightenment for all sentient beings, and a one-time opportunity to enlighten all sentient beings. So, you can see how your life is so precious and you have to be very careful not to waste it and live as much as possible with a bodhicitta motivation.

With much love and prayers...

Daily Practice
A student wrote to Rinpoche telling him about the mantras he recites every day and his practice.

My very dear Noah,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. I am very happy to know of your interesting practice, especially your practice of bodhicitta and dedicating your merits to all sentient beings, so that their sicknesses are healed. I saw you are reciting mantras but I didn’t see that you are practicing guru yoga—Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga or Shakyamuni Buddha Guru Yoga, or the most extensive one, which is Lama Chöpa. Lama Chöpa might be difficult for you to do at the moment, as to be qualified you need a highest yoga tantra initiation. Until then, you can practice Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga, meditating on the oneness of the guru-deity, looking at Buddha from your side and seeing oneness. That causes realizations on the path to enlightenment.

Also, reciting a prayer of the stages of the path to enlightenment (lam-rim prayer) every day plants the seeds of the realizations of the whole path to enlightenment every day, and that means you become closer to realizing the path to enlightenment every day, which means you become closer to enlightening all sentient beings every day. This is by doing direct meditation on the stages of the path to enlightenment (any lam-rim prayer*). This is a fundamental practice in one’s daily life. On the basis of this, then one can do elaborate meditations on the stages of the path to enlightenment, step by step, until one achieves stable realizations. If you don’t have much time, then at least do meditation on the lam-rim, which means reading a lam-rim prayer mindfully.

Also, it is very good if every year you can do some retreat, it can be a week, a month, or many months long, it doesn’t matter how long it is. It can be a deity retreat or a retreat on the lam-rim, combined with preliminary practices, or a preliminary practice retreat combined with lam-rim.
With much love and prayers...

*Note: See, for example, the lam-rim prayers composed by Lama Je Tsongkhapa.

Connection to Practices
A student wrote to Rinpoche saying she had a strong connection to Chenrezig and Medicine Buddha and could she do these two practices.

My very dear Nina,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. It is great that you wish to practice these two – Medicine Buddha and Chenrezig. This is my general advice to everyone. It is very important in everyday life to do these two practices. Since you want to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, liberate sentient beings from suffering and the causes of suffering, bring sentient beings to enlightenment, and at least liberate yourself from the oceans of sufferings, it is very important to do these two practices.

Also, it is very important to recite one lam-rim prayer every day. This includes all the stages of the path to enlightenment within it and it is very important to recite it without your mind being distracted. Then, this becomes a direct meditation on the lam-rim and that plants the seed of enlightenment. Also, in some lam-rim prayers there are a few lines of the tantric path. Then, when you have taken a highest tantric initiation you can recite your personal deity’s tantric stages of the path. It is very important to recite that every day. This prepares your mind for the tantric path to enlightenment and helps you achieve enlightenment quickly.

All of these practices I am giving you (in enclosed sheets) should all be performed on the basis of guru devotion. If you haven’t taken a highest tantric initiation then you should practice daily Guru Shakyamuni meditation or Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga, which ever you feel closer to, then you will receive more blessings.

As you have already received the Chenrezig great initiation, you are qualified to practice the sadhana and recite the mantra. So, even while you are doing your job in the daytime, your mind should focus on Chenrezig with devotion while reciting the mantra as much as possible. Then, you can visualize nectar flowing out from Chenrezig and entering your body, speech, and mind. You are completely purified and the four things are completely purified (disease, spirit harm, negative karma, and defilements). So, sometimes focus on purifying, and sometimes meditate on the two types of bodhicitta: exchanging yourself and others and the seven point mind training: six causes and one effect. While meditating on these two, recite the Chenrezig mantra. You can also meditate and recite at the same time while meditating on tong-len– taking on suffering and the all the undesirable things and then giving loving kindness, compassion, and all your merit of the three times and the resulting happiness up to enlightenment. Your body becomes a wish-granting jewel for all sentient beings. You can also mentally offer all your belongings.

You can get the longest Chenrezig mantra from the FPMT Education Department in the US*.

Please make your life most meaningful with the most precious thought of bodhicitta.
With much love and prayers...

*Note: Or, refer to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's advice on the Chenrezig practice here.

Practice Advice
A student wrote asking for advice on daily practice.

Dear Nicola,
This will be your morning practice.

In the morning, the first thing is to rejoice, thinking, “I didn’t die, especially today. Today I have a precious human body, especially, a perfect human rebirth.” Here, you rejoice in each one of the ten richnesses, thinking how precious each one is. Then, make a strong determination to practice Dharma on the basis of correctly devoting to the virtuous friend. This is the basis of the Hinayana, then the Mahayana, then tantra. Even though you’re not engaged so much in tantra now, this is for the future.

Think about impermanence and death. Death can happen any moment, even today, within this hour, even in the next minute. So, what can one do? Think, “I must renounce the ‘I’ and cherish others, because all suffering comes from the ‘I,’ while all virtue and happiness, up to enlightenment, comes from cherishing others. So, others are the most precious beings in my life.” You can do these meditations while reciting the Chenrezig mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. In order to better understand the disadvantages of cherishing the “I” and the advantages of cherishing others, you can read some of the talks I’ve given in the past.

At this stage, after doing the meditation on giving up the “I” and cherishing others, you can practice tong-len. You can read about this practice in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. After doing tong-len, make the determination that there is nothing else to do but cherish all sentient beings. Then think, “What sentient beings need is happiness. What they don’t need is suffering. I must free them all from suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment. Therefore, I am going to do all the virtuous practices and activities for that purpose. (“Virtuous practice” here means traditional practices such as mandala offerings, etc. “Activities” here means eating, sleeping, working, etc, which are not normally labeled virtuous).

So, this becomes your daily motivation for the rest of your life’s activities. Also, it becomes part of the practice of integrating your whole life into the practice of the five powers. Of these five powers, this is the power of the attitude of life, the way of turning one’s actions into bodhicitta, such that all actions naturally become the cause of enlightenment. Also, in this way, if you have a commitment to recite OM MANI PADME HUM, it gets done at the same time. If you’re able to recite 10 malas a day, that is best. But if you’re able to do more, of course, that is still better. So, the practice is done together with many things.

In addition, before the main meditation in the morning, you can do prostrations to the 35 Buddhas. This is done by repeating each name of the Buddha three times in a row continuously while prostrating. When you’re lying flat on the ground, you go to the name of the next Buddha. Afterwards, recite the names of the seven medicine Buddhas. Then complete the rest of the confessional prayer that includes the four opponent powers. If you have time, you can do the general confession after this. At the end, you can do the praise to Chenrezig that comes from the Nyung-nä practice, which gets recited while doing prostrations.

There may be occasional days when you aren’t able to do this meditation practice, but if in general you can keep doing it, it will have an incredible result. This kind of practice will bring you to the pure land at the time of death, or to another great rebirth—one of the best rebirths. And, of course, in this way, you liberate sentient beings quicker from the ocean of samsaric suffering.

At this point, you need to meditate on the actual body of the lam-rim on the basis of guru yoga. Therefore, you need to practice guru yoga. The purpose of this practice is to receive the blessing of the guru. For this, you can use the practice that I put together. Later, when you have received a great initiation of highest tantra, you can do Lama Chöpa combined with Jor Cho. When you do the lam-rim prayer which is in Lama Chöpa, meditate on guru devotion when you recite the first verse of the prayer or after you have completed the prayer, which becomes a direct meditation if you recite it mindfully. You can do the same with other parts of lam-rim meditation, such as the perfect human rebirth.

Every day before you go to bed, you should again recite the names of the 35 Buddhas three times quickly, without repeating them. Then recite one mala of the Vajrasattva mantra, either while prostrating or while sitting and doing the visualization. If you do the mantra recitation with prostrations, two very powerful methods are combined. Then, generate strong faith that all negative karmas are being purified. The stronger one’s faith is here, the more one is able to purify.

My advice is that everyone who wants happiness and doesn’t want suffering should practice Chenrezig meditation to develop compassion for sentient beings, and practice Medicine Buddha for success.

After doing purification practice in the evening, make an extensive dedication, including the King of Prayers. The other very important prayer is Lama Tsongkhapa’s “taking the essence day and night,” that is, whatever section of the lam-rim one is trying to actualize, to use that in your daily activities, to perform your daily activities with that thought. During your actual sitting time, as well as in the break time, try to have the continuous thought of the lam-rim meditation that was practiced in the morning. These might include, for example, guru devotion, renunciation of samasara, bodhicitta, the kindness of sentient beings, suffering, or emptiness—looking at the self and object as dreams, how one sees them as truly existent while they are not. The main emphasis should be on cultivating bodhicitta. Your sitting mediation and all the activities in the day should be performed with the mind of bodhicitta; the thought to benefit others should be the heart of your practice 24 hours a day. That involves watching and checking one’s mind 24 hour a day, each day of one’s life.
Studying or working for a Dharma center means working for the teachings and for sentient beings, so working for a center accomplishes both services.

Daily Practice: The Power of the Compassion Buddha Practice
A student wrote to Rinpoche asking him to recommend a daily practice and preliminary practices.

My Very Dear Keith,

Thank you very much for your kind letter. I am very happy to hear that you want to dedicate your life to daily practice, and also the preliminaries. Here are the answers from my Mickey Mouse observations for your daily practice.

For guru yoga, it would be best to do Chenrezig. In the meantime, you can do the Eight Verses practice, the Everflowing Nectar of Bodhicitta practice. The Chenrezig practice of reciting OM MANI PADME HUM is the most important practice in daily life. The very heart of the purpose of life is to develop compassion for every single hell being, animal being, hungry ghost, human being, sura, and asura being, because the purpose of life is to benefit others. To benefit others, what drives this? The Buddha of Compassion. Without the Buddha of Compassion, it’s like not having fuel in a car or an airplane, you cannot use the vehicle to bring the people to the place where they wish to be for their happiness. Without compassion, you don’t care about others’ happiness, so you don’t help others. If there is compassion, you bring peace and happiness to your family, society, neighbors, area, country, the whole world – to all sentient beings – those who are in different universes and realms, to everyone, without leaving out even one being; you help to benefit everyone.

Compassion helps you develop the wish to be able to help others. Then you see you need general wisdom, Dharma wisdom, and in particular, the wisdom to realize emptiness. What causes the need to achieve enlightenment is compassion generated toward every living being. What causes us to achieve enlightenment is compassion. Because of compassion, you collect extensive merit. That helps you to realize emptiness, and that wisdom causes you to eliminate all the defilements, both gross and subtle. Because of the vast amounts of merit that you collect all the time, with the root of compassion for countless beings, you are able to complete the path. Therefore, you are able to remove the gross and subtle defilements and achieve full enlightenment.

After you achieve enlightenment, you are able to perform perfect works without any effort. You simultaneously work for sentient beings, until everyone becomes enlightened. It is like one sun rising, but it reflects simultaneously in every body of water in the world in the ocean and even in one dew drop. So, working for sentient beings becomes like that. You benefit them without the slightest mistake and bring everyone from happiness to happiness to enlightenment, including yourself.

So, you see now how compassion is the most important thing, the most important realization. It makes life most meaningful and every single action of yours most beneficial for all sentient beings. Therefore, you need to receive the blessings of the special deity of compassion, and that is the Compassion Buddha, Avalokiteshvara.

Please get the book on the Teachings from the Mani Retreat. It explains the benefit of the mantra and the Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) practice. If you get that, I don’t have to explain too much here.

As for preliminary practices, probably you have some understanding why to do these. Lama Tsongkhapa asked Manjushri, “What is the quickest way to achieve enlightenment?” Manjushri replied, “Practice purifying the obstacles to realizations, collect the necessary conditions due to merits, and one pointedly request to the guru.” This means, with the mind of guru yoga – the pure mind seeing the guru as Buddha – with that devotion, making one pointed requests to grant blessings, just like all the lineage lamas who actualized the path and achieved enlightenment. This is what they did. All the realizations and enlightenment that they achieved, enabling them to enlighten all other sentient beings, this is the profit, the advantage, that comes from these practices, including one pointedly requesting the guru with that pure mind of devotion.

For the actual body and mind training of the path, the root of the path is guru devotion, in order to have stable realizations. Then, there are three principle paths to enlightenment: renunciation, bodhicitta, and right view. Then, there is the uncommon path: highest tantra and the two stages.

Your preliminary practices are as follows:

Water bowls: 90,000
Tsa-tsas: 70,000
Mandala offerings: 300,000
Guru yoga: 80,000
Dorje Khadro: 90,000
Tong-len – the bodhicitta practice: 100,000

Tong-len is making the requesting prayer together with the meditation of giving and taking. Here, each time when you take on sufferings and the causes of sufferings, including the negative imprints, take all sentient beings’ sufferings, including the delusions and karma, negative imprints, and also the undesirable environment. For example, in hell, there is the ice fire, the ice mountain, the burning ground, and the iron house; then the pretas’ environment is a very depressing place with no water, and so hot and cold; the humans’ environment, it is a very dirty place full of thorn bushes. You take the environmental sufferings as well, in the form of black pollution, and you give them to the ego and destroy the ego – one’s own worst enemy. This is the greatest demon that has interfered so far with your being able to achieve enlightenment. It hasn’t allowed you to achieve enlightenment, liberation from samsara, or to enlighten all sentient beings, not even one. In these ways, you can see that one’s own ego is the enemy of all sentient beings, not only an enemy to you.

Also, you collect so many merits by taking on all the sufferings, the causes of suffering, and the undesirable environments. Then, when you practice giving, you collect vast amounts of merits by offering your body as a wish-fulfilling jewel and offering your possessions to all sentient beings. However many possessions you have, you collect that much merit by offering them to sentient beings. Because sentient beings are countless, you collect countless merits with each possession you offer.

Then, by offering all the past, present, and future merits, the three times’ merits, again, you collect so much merit. You offer all your future happiness, present happiness, from the next minute’s happiness up until enlightenment, including liberation and the realizations to each and every single hell being, hungry ghost, animal, human, sura, and asura being. You can see that sentient beings are countless. By giving to each of them, you collect so many merits. You can’t imagine. I think if you really knew how much merit you collect, you would faint, fall down – it might be difficult to get up! I hope it’s not for a long time! I hope people won’t take you to a hospital or a psychologist. I hope your family or friends don’t take you to the hospital because of it!

There is a prayer from Nagarjuna’s teachings:

Whatever sufferings there are, may they ripen on me; whatever happiness I have, may it ripen on sentient beings.

With the first part, you do the practice of taking. With the second, you do the practice of giving. Then you count on the mala (each time you recite the verse). I think you will be blissed out from this practice and the sentient beings will be blissed out!

As for meditations on the lam-rim, please do the following:

Five months – lower scope
Three months – middle scope
Two months – bodhicitta
Four months – right view

With much love and prayer...

Daily Practice
A student wrote to Rinpoche with questions about her daily practice. Rinpoche gave the following advice.

Dear Jeanette,
Vajrayogini is your main deity to achieve enlightenment quickly for sentient beings. In order to receive this initiation you need to receive another highest tantra initiation. So, in the future, take an initiation that is good for you from a lama. Most importantly, you must develop the mind of lam-rim and the three principal aspects of the path. To achieve realizations based on guru devotion, first you should study and read the whole lam-rim, it doesn’t matter how long it takes. You can read the lam-rim of Pabongka Rinpoche, the “Refined Gold” by the Seventh Dalai Lama, and also teachings from geshes in your country who have taught lam-rim from a long time. Those teachings could be helpful for you to get a clear understanding. It is not just only reading a lam-rim book and meditating on the path, sometimes also you need to do practices of strong purification, accumulation of merits, and guru devotion.

If you can, do purification practices such as prostrations reciting the 35 Buddhas' names, repeating Vajrasattva mantra before going to bed, and making extensive dedication such as the King of Prayers. If you can do this, it could benefit sentient beings, in the same way as the bodhisattvas and Buddha. Collect the merits of mandala offerings and making offerings to the great Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha every day. You can offer food, water, flowers, and lights in front of the altar, holy objects, Guru Puja merit field in the ten directions of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, or statues, scriptures and buddhas in the ten directions. So, every day, please do this as much as possible, you will create many merits. By generating bodhicitta you collect vast amounts of merit. Practice bodhicitta meditation: taking other sentient beings’ sufferings and giving them all your merits and possessions; giving to others and guiding them to enlightenment; generating loving kindness for all sentient beings; and offering service to all sentient beings with a sincere heart, knowing that sentient beings are the most kind beings in your life.

Be kind to others every day of your life, inside and outside your house, also to other beings such as animals, and you will collect merits. The other method to collect vast amounts of merit is to practice every day rejoicing in your own past, present, and future merits; the merits of sentient beings of the three times; and the merits of buddhas and bodhisattvas of the three times. This practice of rejoicing collects so much merit in a minute, in an hour, at any time. The highest merit is from practice with the guru: giving service; obeying advice; and doing things that please the guru, other people’s guru, and your own guru with whom you have made a Dharma connection.

Practicing like this is the best way to take care of yourself and others. When you practice like this with guru devotion, you purify negative karma, collect merits, and take care of countless sentient beings.

With much long prayer...

Daily Practice
Rinpoche gave the following advice to a student in Holland, who had asked about daily practice.

My very dear Irma,
Regarding your question about practices, as a daily practice you can do Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga and within that do your lam-rim meditations, receiving blessings from the guru.

In the morning, perform prostrations to the 35 Buddhas by reciting the 35 Buddhas’ names, prostrating toward your altar, statues, stupas, and scriptures of the Buddha.

Before going to bed, recite 28 short Vajrasattva mantras or 21 long Vajrasattva mantras. Vajrasattva practice is very important to stop the day’s negative karma from doubling, and tripling the day after. After three days the negative karma is multiplied by eight, the fourth day by 16, and so on, getting heavier and heavier. Doing Vajrasattva practice purifies the day’s negative karma, as well as past lives’ negative karma. So, you can see how important this practice is, how urgent it is to purify negative karma—it should feel so urgent that you can’t wait even one second before purifying it.

We need to purify obstacles and delusions so as to achieve realizations on the path to enlightenment, and so that we can do perfect work for sentient beings, not just for their temporary happiness but for the ultimate happiness of liberation from samsara, so they never experience the sufferings of samsara again. Ultimately, we need to bring them to full enlightenment. This means eliminating even the subtle mistakes of the mind and achieving all the realizations completely. In this way, we also purify all of the problems in this life, such as relationship and health problems, which all come from negative karma. Also, disasters of the elements (from fire, wind, earth, and water) come from negative karma. All this negative karma is purified so that you don’t have to experience catastrophes or health problems, such as cancer. If you do experience them you only suffer a fraction of what you would have experienced otherwise.

The answer to being free from all these sufferings lies in how one does purification practice. It all depends on how strongly, continuously, and perfectly one does purification practice.

The other important issue in becoming free from these sufferings is to not commit the same negative karmas again that cause obstacles to realizations, suffering in future lives, and rebirth in the lower realms, as well as problems and obstacles in this life. By not committing the same negative karma, one receives temporary happiness in this life as well as in future lives. Therefore, we need to abstain from committing negative actions as much as possible; one easy way to do this is to abstain from the ten non-virtuous actions.

An easy way to abstain from the ten non-virtuous actions is to take the five lay vows, or whatever number one can, from a qualified lama. When you take the vows you enter a guru-disciple relationship, so that means you then need to regard the person giving the vows as one of your gurus. So, it is very important from whom you take the vows because that person becomes your guru, to whom you should have devotion and from whom you obtain advice. If there is no opportunity to take the vows from sangha, then you can also take the vows from an elder lay student, a good practitioner who preserves and lives their life in the vows.

Keeping the vows and abstaining from the ten non-virtuous actions is a fundamental practice that is important to emphasize if one wants realizations on the path to enlightenment, to have happiness in this and future lives, liberation from samsara, and to achieve full enlightenment and be able to enlighten all sentient beings.

The person from whom you take the vows for the first time should hold the lineage but, if this is not possible, then you can take the vows from a holy object such as a picture or statue of Buddha, or, if you have no altar, you can visualize Buddha. Think that all the buddhas of the ten directions are in front of you and then you take the vows from them.

Generally, you need the lineage, so that means receiving the vows from someone who is holding the lineage. However, because death can happen at any time and living in the vows is an easy way to make your life most productive, you can take the vows from the visualized Buddha, taking whatever number of lay vows you are able to keep. In this way, by keeping the vows, you create merit so that you can have a good rebirth in your next life. Taking the vows from a visualized Buddha is only necessary if you live in a very remote place, like a desert, where there are no people holding the lineage or good practitioners. This is only applicable for lay vows; it does not work for higher ordination, for that you must have the lineage. For the five lay vows and eight Mahayana precepts, it is best if you receive the lineage, but if that is not possible then you can take them as I have explained.

Another very important thing is what to do when you are in a break from your sitting meditation. Whatever actions you do when you are not sitting in meditation should all be performed according to the lam-rim, with your mind in the lam-rim. You can connect your actions with whatever lam-rim meditation you have practiced in the morning. Perform all your actions out of that positive thought, such as impermanence, compassion, bodhicitta, guru devotion, renunciation, right view, etc.

Whatever meditation you did in the morning or during that month, perform all the activities in your break out of that meditation, or according to that way of thinking. The bottom line is to perform all one’s actions with bodhicitta. That is the best, most meaningful way to think during your break-time. This makes your life most beneficial. As much as possible, with awareness, keep your attitude and thoughts in bodhicitta, the thought of benefiting others, trying to perform all activities with that mind, including doing your job, throughout the day.

This way, even in your break-time, whatever you do becomes the cause of happiness. Otherwise, your most precious life is used to create the cause of suffering. One’s whole life becomes like that, which is so sad, the saddest thing. You have all the opportunities to achieve enlightenment, the highest success, the most beneficial thing for all sentient beings, and instead it is just wasted.

If you are not born as a human being but as a spider, mosquito, fish in the ocean, gopher, snake, etc., you have buddha nature, but because you don’t have a human body, you can’t do anything. Even if you live for billions of years, you only create the cause of suffering, with non-virtuous thoughts such as ignorance, attachment, and anger. The only motivation you have is to kill and chase other animals.

For instance, you might be born as a shark and eat so many other sentient beings every day. Or if you are born as a tiger or leopard, you will chase, frighten, and kill so many other animals. Then, your whole family of tigers will come and eat the animal. Every day, tigers cause so much fear to others. Their whole life is like this. They do not create any good karma and only create negative karma. We have been born as tigers so many times, from beginningless rebirths, it is unimaginable! We have collected so many negative karmas because we have frightened and killed so many others so many times.

So, you can see how important it is that you have received this perfect, rare, precious human rebirth. Every day, every hour, every minute, it is most critical to use this precious opportunity to practice Dharma, to actualize the path with your mind living in the lam-rim, with guru devotion, renunciation, bodhicitta, and right view. Try to live your life on the basis of the three principles of the path.

If you are not familiar with the lam-rim, then first read through the entire lam-rim, maybe read a lam-rim text like Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand two or three times from beginning to end, to become familiar with it and to understand how to do the meditations. You can read different lam-rim texts and do different meditations at different times.

Of all the practices, the main thing is meditation on the lam-rim, to have the lam-rim realizations; tantric practice is secondary.
With much love and prayers...

Advice on Daily Practice
Rinpoche gave the following advice on daily practice to students at the 37th meditation course at Kopan Monastery.

For daily practice, you can use the version I have prepared of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha yoga daily meditation practice. You can also meditate on the lam-rim. Please also make your break-times, between sitting meditations, a Dharma practice. This is how you integrate your break-times and daily life with the lam-rim, so that your life is always in accord with the Dharma, always collecting merit and purifying. Your life is always directed toward liberation from samsara. In other words, whatever you are doing, during break-times or in sitting sessions, it is always something enlightening, not causing you to circle in samsara, but liberating you from samsara and bringing you to full enlightenment.

It is OK to practice Chenrezig guru yoga practice or of another deity, but otherwise you can practice Guru Shakyamuni Buddha yoga, then meditate on the lam-rim. This way you have an actual practice. It is important how you apply the lam-rim in your life.

You can also use other texts, such as Advice From a Spiritual Friend, Geshe Rabten's commentary, or other texts.

Daily Practice
A young girl, whose whole family is very dedicated to Rinpoche and the Dharma, asked for advice for her mother.

My very dear Neus,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. Regarding your mother, I checked regarding her practice. Please pass this on to her.

Every day, she can practice Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga or Guru Shakyamuni Buddha daily meditation practice, before absorbing the merit field into her (of Lama Tsongkhapa or Shakyamuni Buddha). She should do one lam-rim prayer and meditate on each section of the lam-rim for two weeks, so, for instance, spend two weeks on Guru Devotion, then two weeks on death and impermanence, then two weeks on karma, etc. In this way, she can work through the lam-rim, and then go through it again, starting from the beginning, until she has stable realizations. She can follow the outline in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand or Essential Nectar. Read slowly through these books. At least read Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand completely twice.

In the morning, she should generate a bodhicitta motivation. She can do this while reciting OM MANI PADME HUM. She can find a good bodhicitta motivation from one of my talks or from the Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun.

Then, if possible, if she can do prostrations to the 35 Buddhas by reciting the names of the 35 Buddhas. She should prostrate to her altar, to many pictures of the merit field, and holy objects. If she can do 35 prostrations once, twice, or three times a day, that would be best.

Before going to bed she should recite one mala or half a mala of Vajrasattva and remember the four opponent powers. It would be great if she can do this.

With much love and prayers to you and the whole family, and I hope to see the whole family soon.

More talks by Lama Zopa on this topic:
Refer to Lama Zopa's Advice for Daily Practice.

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