The 4 Mind Changings

Archives for July 2015

The 4 Mind Changings

female-buddhaOver the thousands of years people have practiced the Buddha dharma many branches have evolved, but in general there are three main streams; the Theravada path which is the oldest, the Mahayana path which began around the time of Christ, and the Vajrayana, which developed first in India in the 7th century and then migrated to Tibet in the 8th century.

In Tibetan Buddhism there are 4 contemplations which are similar to the way the Four Noble Truths act as an entry point as well as life long pointers for self observation by helping people develop a more mature world view than the common materialistic one. They also each have depth teachings interwoven into each assertion. Together these 4 declarations are called The 4 Mind Changings or The Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind Toward the Dharma, as they alter the way we view our existence and prepare us mentally to take up the practice of awareness.

  1. Thinking about appreciating this precious human birth
  2. Thinking about death and impermanence, that the opportunities we have now with this precious life are not going to last
  3. Thinking about the laws of karma in relation to cause and effect, and how our choices and our behavior intimately affects what we experience
  4. Thinking about how suffering arises due to identifying with our negative emotions and our sense of separation from the immediacy of life, and thinking how unsatisfying this is. This predicament we are all in is called Samsara, meaning going round and round; repeating habitual patterns out of ignorance or unawareness of what we are doing. This fourth one is thinking how we would like to be free of Samsara.

These are 4 thoughts that I revisit every morning as soon as I awaken.

Try this for a week, laying in bed for 5 minutes before you get up, contemplating these ideas and then later each day think on them again and see how they affect you. For the next few Drops I will unpack each one a bit more.

The Three Jewels

Buddha CaveThe Buddha’s life was a long time ago, 500 years or so before Christ. His name before he became a Buddha (an awakened one) was Siddhartha which translates as “he who has attained his goals”. The teachings that develop experiential insight are called the buddha dharma, and those who practice them are called the Sangha (or dharma community). Together these three, the Buddha, (the teacher from long ago who represents our awakened potential), the Dharma or teachings, and the Sangha, or dedicated practitioners, are called the 3 Jewels. They are jewels of support on a path of living with awareness.

We all need helpful influences in this life journey, all the way through. Write down what your current ‘jewels’ of support are? Ask 3 different people today what theirs are? Reflect on what arises when you ask yourself and others where they access their inspiration, and what protects and fortifies you/them, especially when challenges arise?