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Jan 04
Dharma Teachings
Intention and Motivation

The second of two excerpts from An Ocean of Blessings, a book of teachings by Penor Rinpoche; this one emphasizes the practice of Dharma

We already possess enlightened mind, buddha nature; it has been there from the very beginning, but we cannot see it because of our obscurations. The only way to see it is to practice the Dharma, confess our negative actions, purify our obscurations, and keep following the right path. If there were no omniscient wisdom within us, there would be no point in going through the hardships of practicing Dharma. For instance, if there is gold in the earth, we can find it by digging, but if there is no gold, then we won’t find any no matter how much we dig. Likewise, buddha nature is within us, and we have the potential to awaken it, so it is through digging away obscurations with the shovels of confession and purification that our buddha nature will become apparent.

It is said that Dharma practice depends on our motivation, and if we don’t do the prayers for the dedication of merit, our practice won’t have much effect. Whatever practice we engage in, such as prostrations, yidam deity practice, mantra recitation, and so forth, our pure motivation is the most important factor for it to be successful, and as soon as we finish our practice, we should dedicate it with prayers. If we don’t do dedication prayers for the benefit of all beings, then the merit won’t be very vast, and if, due to our self-attachment, we only practice for our own benefit or our family’s, the merit won’t be very beneficial.

For instance, when we have a headache, all we can think is, “How can I get rid of my headache?” When we have stomachache, all we can think is, “How can I get rid of my stomachache?” When we try to earn money, all we can think is, “How can I make more money?” We focus only on our own benefit. But usually all beings have similar needs and desires, so instead of just thinking about our own selfish needs, we should think, “How can all sentient beings be free of suffering?” Instead of just focusing on ourselves, whatever practice we engage in should be done with a vast motivation, not just for ourselves but for all beings. That way the benefits and results will be very vast.

It is also taught that if we practice with devotion and pure perception, we will definitely experience signs, such as good dreams and so forth. But if we do a little practice and get too excited about these things and become attached to them, they turn into obstacles. Therefore, when you get positive signs, you should think it is due to your master’s blessings, and when you get negative signs like sickness and so forth, you should understand that it is due to your negative karma, which can be purified through such difficulties. Whatever occurs, good or bad, you should just carry on with your practice without expectation and consider that your pain and discomfort will purify the negative actions of all beings. In that way, your suffering can benefit all beings.

Three Jewels

Your intention is the most important thing, and with such an attitude your difficulties can be meaningful. No matter what pain and hardships you face during the practice, you should supplicate the Three Jewels, considering that it is due to the ripening of your negative karma and is purifying your obscurations, and thereby generate a pure motivation. Someone who understands the Dharma can understand that one’s own pain and difficulties can eliminate the sufferings of beings, but this is not something you should tell sick and tormented beings who have no idea about Dharma practice—they will just get more upset.

Dharma practice is something that concerns your mind. You can make anything meaningful and beneficial by transforming the way you think. For example, when you have a headache, if you just get depressed about it, your headache will be meaningless and have no benefit whatsoever. Instead you should consider that the pain can be made meaningful with the thought that you are not the only being experiencing a headache, but countless beings in this world experience headaches and much more severe pain and suffering. You should then generate the wish that by your experiencing this headache, the pain and sickness of all beings may ripen. If you think in this way, your headache can become beneficial not only for yourself but for others too.

From An Ocean of Blessings by Penor Rinpoche, edited by Ani Jinba Palma © 2017 Palyul Ling International. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. www.shambhala.com

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