Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 12/30/2014

Setting intention

There’s magic when, before beginning a meditation, you extend the field of your motivation to many beings—as long as many individual beings appear to mind—because then the session will be connected to not just one small being, yourself, but with many, many others. As a result, its power will increase proportionately. The process of learning how to direct your motivation at the beginning of a session by patiently directing its value to individual persons requires time and practice for the implications to be brought home. In meditation, do this by taking just one person to mind and thinking, “I am beginning this session of meditation for your sake.” When you experience a feeling extending out to that person, take to mind another person and repeat the process. Do this with at least ten persons at the start of each session. Gradually the field of your activity will grow and grow. Start with people nearby. Don’t make your altruistic intention so diffuse that it has no meaning, but slowly extend it on to your state or province and then to countries—to the United States, to Canada, Mexico, South America, Australia, China, Tibet, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and so forth. If it becomes weak, come back and dedicate the value again to a smaller group, a few individuals, and then add, “by extension everyone else.” If the field is “all sentient beings,” and it’s not many individual beings, the referent is apt to be merely vague, and the meditation does not have much force. When any individual appears to your mind, your compassionate endeavor should be for that person too. Only after this is it possible to extend the altruistic motivation to groups such that the session is for them. Then when you’ve directed altruism to so many individuals and groups, “all” comes to have some meaning. Otherwise, saying “all” tends to mean “no one,” and whenever anyone appears to your mind they aren’t included in “all sentient beings” whereas, of course, they should be. Then, whether meditating alone or with someone else or in a larger group, reflect that what you are doing—no matter how insignificant you might think its force is—is to benefit the entire world. It’s evocative to consider that a thoughtful activity in a particular place can be tied into the whole cosmos such that even if the session doesn’t produce much insight, the motivation with which you started is so powerful that it will still make a difference. Guaranteed success.

The long passage above congress directly from Jeffrey Hopkins’ book A Truthful Heart, a book which I cannot recommend highly enough. Right motivation or intention send to me to be one of those aspects of the path that get short shrift despite the fact that they are incredibly powerful and effective. In my case I guess it’s a simple matter of faith or conviction; I sometimes find it hard to believe that simply saying something has the power to do anything. It’s as if I momentarily forget that word have the power to shape thought and bend perception which is utter foolishness for a person who spends a party of each day writing about his practice.

May all of us strive to include all beings in our motivations to practice and dedicate the merit of all we do to relieve their suffering more and in the future.

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