Tag Archives: mind training

Bringing fear of coronavirus (and all other fears) onto the path Part 3: How to live and how to die

In addition to “others first,” another important resource the mind training tradition offers us is a set of specific practices for empowering both our life and our death (point 5 of the 7 points of mind training, Great Path of Awakening page 25).

In both cases we are applying the same five practices, literally called the five strengths or powers, but in a different order and with somewhat different content depending on whether we have entered the bardo of dying or not. According to the Vajrayana teachings, the bardo — or transitional state — of dying begins as soon as we know what’s going to kill us, e.g, when we get a terminal diagnosis, even if we potentially have years yet to live. However, since we don’t always get a lot of notice, it’s good to be familiar with the five ways to empower our dying process even when we are fit and healthy, and especially if we find ourselves facing a fearsome cause of serious illness and death.

I recommend reading this section in The Great Path of Awakening or another book on mind training, but here’s the gist:

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Bringing fear of coronavirus (and all other fears) onto the path Part 2: Mind training in two words

When Lama Karma Samten taught the seven points of mind training at Palpung Thubten Choling Monastery in 2016, he began by summing up the entire path of mind training in two words:

“Others first.”

The worst thing about fear is that it can cause our awareness to contract around our sense of danger and personal vulnerability, and we can temporarily lose sight of our dharma perspectives of putting others first and recalling the emptiness of all phenomena.

However, through mind training practice, the arising of anxiety, fear, anger, or illness can instead become a cue to reconnect with our basic Mahayana motivation of cultivating wisdom and compassion in order to wake ourselves up for the benefit of others in all circumstances, and we can immediately put it into practice wherever we are both by helping others in material ways and by engaging in taking and sending, the meditation practice associated with mind training.

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