French Icon German Icon
PDF Download

The practice of meditation on transience

Second, there is the meditation on the transience of life. In this section is also the explanation that motivates practitioners by exhortations in the traditional sense. The conventional sense accepts the phenomena as they appear in the general reality as seemingly true and lasting entities. This is in contrast to the particular sense in which the phenomena are understood as empty, without any inner existence and without actual genesis. The purpose here is not to create a feeling of deep depression and hopelessness about one's own life, but to be very aware of the fact of the transience of all things, including one's own physical body. And when the human body is transient, how much more is this the mind or the thought process, which changes from moment to moment.

 

The knowledge and meditation on the transience of all things and the inevitability of one's own death, serves the practitioner to produce an intense sense of disappointment and disgust at the pursuit of worldly life with its inevitable frustrations, disappointments and fleeting goals that are like sand trickle through your fingers. Because of this disgust, one develops and maintains an inner motivation to practice the Dzogchen teachings in order to receive the liberation from the frustrations and sufferings that one experiences when participating in the cyclical existence, where one under the rule of time, must accept changes and the inevitable decline.

 

Again, you take the fivefold meditation position of the body. Then one should think about one's own existential situation in the world. One should think about the fact that all conditional things are transient. Whatever you have made or created will eventually disintegrate. Whatever you save, you will eventually lose. Nothing is eternal because all things are conditioned by causes. In making an investigation of everything, you will find that all things are transient, including your own physical body. It is a misconception to think that one lives on and on without dying.

 

Although you do not know the hour of your own death, it is certain that you will eventually die. Therefore, one should not delay the practice to tomorrow, because the Lord of death can intervene at any time. Now you have to decide what is really important and useful and what is just annoying and unnecessary. One will not be able to take his possessions into the Bardo when one dies. Before this present life one wandered without meaning in the course of countless deaths and rebirths in Samsara. But you have neither luck nor satisfaction found. Illness, suffering, frustration and anxiety have been experienced throughout this past lives. In each one was born and grew old, fell ill and died. So what? One is only born again to die once more. So how do you think that the present life will last forever?

 

One should consider how many others have died before the own time and are no longer visible. They were once, as we are now, alive and full of life, but now they are all gone. One should think about this fact carefully. One was attracted to worldly life as if it were something lasting. Moreover, one should consider all those others who have fallen into poverty and misery after having once enjoyed great wealth and power. One should pay attention to how friends have become enemies and how enemies have become friends.

 

Everything changes from moment to moment, nothing stays the same. Therefore, apart from refuge, there is nothing in this world that you can fully trust. Therefore one should not cling to the things of earthly life and not rely on them. Just watch the seasons that change all the time. Our own life has changed from birth to childhood, adolescence, and until now adulthood. Middle age is followed by age, illness and finally death. Although one does not know how and when one will die, our death is certain. One can postpone death with medication and hospital technologies, but there is no escape from it. All living beings born in the past have finally died. From the beginning to the present, there were no living things that did not die. Even the Buddhas and the great saints have passed away. You should think about it well.

 

And next time, it is not even certain that you will be reborn as a human, or that you may be born again as an animal or a restless spirit. But a human existence is much better than the other possibilities of rebirth, as it offers the maximum opportunity for the practice of spiritual teachings.

 

Therefore, you should not waste this unique opportunity and postpone the practice to tomorrow or to one of your next lives. This precious human body, or human existence, represents a unique opportunity to enter the spiritual path to ultimately attain liberation and enlightenment. Thus, by possessing certain unique qualities, a human existence is more beneficial and conducive to the process of enlightenment than other types of existence, including the Devas and the Asuras.

 

This attitude is clearly quoted in a verse. This one is as follows:

 

The Eight Opportunities and the Ten Values possess eighteen virtuous qualities;
Numerous examples should intensively examine the difficulties in obtaining these;
Well, in terms of the usefulness of this valuable support, which is the human body,
One should produce with zeal the deeds with regard to the perfect virtue!

 

The eight chances of a precious human existence are as follows:

 

1. that one is not born again among the inhabitants of the hells,
2. that you are not born again among the Pretas or hungry spirits,
3. that one is not reborn as an animal lacking the articulated language,
4. that one is not reborn in the long-lived gods, which are subject to inertia,
5. that you will not be reborn with the Barbarians in a borderland,
6. that one is not born again among the Tirthikas, who have the wrong views,
7. that one is not born again in an age when no Buddhas will appear, and
8. that you will not be moronic or have defective skills.

 

Among the ten values, the first five values result from:

 

1. that one is reborn as a human being,
2. that one is born again in a central land where the Dharma is taught,
3. that one is reborn with all intact abilities,
4. that you are not engaged in extreme deeds or a lifestyle in conflict with the Dharma, and
5. that one has a belief in the Dharma.

 

Then there are five values due to another (the Buddha and the teachers):

 

1. that a Buddha appeared,
2. that he taught the Dharma,
3. that his teaching has a continuous existence to the present,
4. that one has entered into this doctrine of the Dharma, and
5. that you meet good spiritual friends who are the teachers.

 

The Practice Handbook usually presents three levels for the meditation on the transience of life:

 

I. The exercises where you visualize your environment in the process of decay. This reflects the transience of all conditioned things.

 

II. The exercises where one first visualizes that you achieves all kinds of wealth and then you lost all again, if you finds that you must die and so on. Through this one thinks of the future of worldly status and success.

 

III. The exercises where you visualize your own death and the decay of the elements of your own body. As a result, one thinks of one's own physical mortality.

 

In particular, there are nine exercises in which one visualizes and thinks about the meaning of transience in concrete, experience-based terms:

 

1. The meditation on the inevitable loss of wealth, power and success;
2. The meditation on illness and the inevitable decay of the human body;
3. The meditation on the appearance of one's own death;
4. The meditation on the process of dying and entering the Bardo;
5. The meditation on wandering in a devastated land;
6. The meditation on the death of others in the past;
7. The meditation on how the conditions inevitably change with time;
8. The meditation on the incessant flow of time, and
9. The meditation on the inevitability of one's own death.

 

In terms of the post-death experience, these are the visions that arise in the Bardo, as well as the visions that are experienced every night in the dream state, as well as the worldly hallucinations that result in the stimulus-flooded deprivations in the Experience of the Dark Retreat appear.

 

These visions are impure, that is, they are conditioned by our past karma as well as recent circumstances. Both the dream practice and the dark retreat serve as preparations for Bardo experiences after death.

 

Regarding the meditation of wandering in a barren, devastated land, though memories of one's past persist throughout the mind, one finds no possible reason to do anything. This is a visionary description of deep depression and all misery, wandering aimlessly, meaninglessly, through a barren and unknown land, naked and unaccompanied. For some people it can happen that this is experienced in the Bardo. But it is also a state of landscapes, similar to those found in the dimension of the existence of the hungry ghosts. In any case, all outward appearances are illusions and so all entanglements with the attachments to their reality must be cut off.

 

These worldly appearances arise in the bardo in our consciousness of what was familiar to us in our former life and what was common to us, like dreams that often reflect the experiences of the previous day at night.