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October 2, 2017

Mindfulness for Beginners: Dedicating the Merit of our Practice.

 

“When we want to accumulate merit, even at the beginning we shouldn’t think, ‘The merit is mine.’ Instead, we should think, ‘The merit is for others,’ or, ‘That is others’ merit.’ Just to motivate like this from the beginning is very good and it becomes a remedy for destroying the self-cherishing thought.” ~ Lama Yeshe

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The other day, I stood alone in the temple in front of an altar full of a stunningly beautiful and potent mandala of crystals, Tibetan singing bowls, and Buddhas.

As I breathed with my palms together in prayer in front of my heart and wished that the journey my family and I are about to embark upon be safe, peaceful, and joyous, for one brief second my mind was clear and radiant.

I realized that this wish for myself and the two beings closest to me (my husband and daughter) was simultaneously a wish for all beings without exception. The pure and simple aspiration, “May the journey of all beings be safe, peaceful, healthy, and happy” welled up from that indescribable source that lies within each of us and is ever surrounding us all.

 

Dedicating the merit is fundamental to all meditation. It is absolutely essential and not to be overlooked. Here is an example of a dedication of merit you can recite at the end of your practice:

May the earth be wholesome everywhere
The world blessed with prosperity
May the poor and destitute find wealth
And the stooping animals be freed

May every being ailing with illness
Find relief at once from suffering
May all the sickness that afflict the living
Be instantly and permanently healed

May those who go in dread, have no more fear,
May captives be unchained and set free,
And may the weak now become strong,
May living beings help each other in kindness.

May travelers upon the road,
Find happiness no matter where they go,
And may they gain, without hardship,
The goals on which their hearts are set.

From the songs of birds and the sighing of trees,
From the shafts of light and from the sky itself,
May living beings, each and every one,
Perceive the constant sound of Dharma.

~ Shantideva

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Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus
Image: YouTube
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis

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Ali Shelton Gunn Oct 4, 2017 3:38pm

Loved reading that ! Thank you

Linda Lewis Oct 3, 2017 12:52pm

I believe these quotes from Shantideva are a translation from the 10th chapter of the Bodhicaryavatara, sometimes translated as "The Bodhisattva's Way of Life" or "The conduct of a Bodhisattva". What is important to know is that this chapter on dedication follows the most powerful chapter, chapter 9, on prajna paramita, or the perfection of insight. This insight is what sees not only the transitoriness or impermanence of everything, but also, because of every thing's interdependence to causes and conditions, no one thing has a single, permanent, changeless entity. Thus the insight leads to the realization of emptiness--which is not sterile, but liberating. As Nagarjuna said, "Because of emptiness, everything is possible." Our world is not solid, is changing all the time, and thus our minds can be flexible, free from clinging. But if people cannot realize this through meditation, through just being and letting this realization arise, well then--may the world have good harvest, may the suffering of the world cease, may those who are weak become strong, etc. So the preceding truth of emptiness known as absolute or ultimate truth, is followed by chapter 10's dedication and acknowledgement of relative truth, apparent existence and all the sentient beings within, especially those who have not realized the truth of emptiness, which includes egolessness. This is another reason to dedicate the "merit"--because there is no solid entity to accumulate merit nor really no one to receive it, and the "merit" itself is questionable from the pt of view of absolute truth. But the gesture of wishing to be of benefit, to give, to help--this also aids one's insight into what is known as 2-fold egolessness, egolessness of self and egolessness of other. In that way the 2 truths, absolute and relative, work together quite well!

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Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a heart-centered writer, teacher and creator of Yoga Freedom.

She has been a columnist on Elephant Journal since 2010 and has self-published inspiring books. She incorporates dharma, hatha, yin, mindfulness, chakras, chanting and pranayama into her teachings and practice. A former advertising copywriter and elementary school teacher, she is now a freelance writer and translator. Michelle learned yoga from a book at age 12 and started teaching at 22. She met the Buddha in California at 23 and has been a student of the dharma ever since. Michelle is now approaching her forties with grace and gratitude.

Join Michelle for a writing and yoga retreat this summer at magical Lake Atitlan in the western highlands of Guatemala!