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Lions Roar : January 2015
themselves begin to fall away. There is a deep sense of connection, and you understand what is being said. Finally, you begin to fall away too, and only the dharma remains. Memorizing a little dharma each day may sound like an unusual thing to do, but we are already practicing memoriza- tion. We memorize what’s on television, which movies are playing, what we need to buy at the store, and who said what to whom. The mind is busy cataloging these lists and scripts. When something triggers a strong emotional reaction, we are cata- pulted into our habitual pattern of aggres- sion instead of peace. Unless we regularly clarify our understanding, there will always be a struggle between our dharmic training and our nondharmic ways, which are based on our belief in a separate self and on principles of pride. Our little inter- pretations will increasingly obscure our vision, and as time goes by our sense of confidence in the dharma will diminish. If our mind is going to be thinking about things anyhow, let’s reorient it toward the dharma. In the early stages of practice and study, we must make time and effort to put on dharma spectacles and ask, “How would the Buddha deal with the situation I’m in?” The more teachings we can recall from memory, the more confidence and insight we will have, and the more dharmic principles will become a reality. So many of our thoughts and ideas are just space fillers. In contemplating the dharma we are doing something far more useful. If we’re ever unsure about our actions, we can look at the outcome of our behavior. It is often said that the dharma is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end. We feel good while we act in a dharmic way and we feel good afterward. When we engage in a nondharmic way, in the beginning it’s So many thoughts are just space fillers. In contemplating the dharma we’re doing something useful. messy, in the middle it doesn’t feel good, and at the end we feel violated, stained, or not quite right. Though we might have a temporary sense of pride and accom- plishment, we are left with a bitter taste. I hear very few people on their deathbed saying, “I’m glad I engaged in life with an attitude of deceit and aggression. It was clever how I manipulated the situation, and I feel very good about that.” How do we maintain our dharmic ears and eyes? We meditate daily, even if it’s just for a brief time. First we focus on feel- ing the breath. Then we choose a theme to contemplate or some words to memo- rize and focus our mind on that. Positive thoughts are said to be more power- ful and go much deeper than negative thoughts, so when we lay a foundation of positive thoughts, we change the whole of our thinking for the better. We feel a sense of confidence and a lack of confusion because we are learn- ing how to handle our mind. This will help us even at the time of our death. When we study and practice the dharma daily, we soak in the qualities of the Buddha and feel less obligated to follow our nondharmic ways. Before, we had no choice: we were compul- sively driven to act on our thoughts. Now, whenever we feel an impulse to do something, we think, “I could do it or I could not do it.” We experience a sense of choice and release. Our mind is lighter and more content. We have confidence, so we’re able to appreciate the world more. We don’t need as much, so we can live more simply. We look radiant and feel healthy because we know that the dharma is actually supporting our life. The more we absorb the dharma, the more natural it becomes for dharmic thoughts to come forth in any situation. When something comes up, we don’t wander from the view of emptiness and compassion. The dharma becomes a nat- ural energy source, perennially available, with limitless nutrients and flavors—and it always tastes good. ♦ ALSO AVAILABLE: Zafus, Gomdens, Incense, Malas, Candles, Torma, Thangkas See more at: lionsroar.com/auction Tools to help your practice flourish. Singing Bowl from TIBET COLLECTION shambhala sun january 2015 15