The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

206 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGAnd so Bodhichitta "arises where it has not arisen," for thishas brought you to a point where you are impelled by analmost heartbreaking urge to take responsibility for others, andso to pledge yourself truly to arouse the heart of the enlightenedmind by training in what are called "Bodhichitta in aspiration"and "Bodhichitta in action." 7 The former is to train inconsidering yourself the same as others, then in exchangingyourself with others, which includes the Tonglen practice, andfinally in considering others even more important than yourself.The latter is to develop to perfection generosity, discipline,patience or endurance, diligence, concentration, andwisdom, all of them infused by a penetrating insight into thenature of reality itself. So the Bodhichitta "never declineswhere it has arisen" and goes on "increasing further and further."This, then, is the path of the bodhisattvas, the practiceof the compassionate heart of the enlightened mind that,because undertaken for the benefit of all, leads directly to Buddhahood.THE STAGES OF TONGLENNow that I have introduced you to the various methods ofevoking compassion, and to the importance and power ofcompassion itself, I can give you the noble practice of Tonglenmost effectively; for now you will have the motivation, theunderstanding, and the tools to do it for your greatest benefitand the greatest benefit of others. Tonglen is a Buddhist practice,but I strongly believe that anyone—anyone at all—can doit. Even if you have no religious faith, I urge you simply to tryit. I have found Tonglen to be of the greatest possible help.Put very simply, the Tonglen practice of giving and receivingis to take on the suffering and pain of others, and givethem your happiness, well-being, and peace of mind. Like oneof the methods of meditation practice I explained earlier,Tonglen uses the medium of the breath. As Geshe Chekhawawrote: "Giving and receiving should be practiced alternately.This alternation should be placed on the medium of thebreath."I know from my own experience how hard it is to imaginetaking on the sufferings of others, and especially of sick anddying people, without first building in yourself a strength andconfidence of compassion. It is this strength and this confi-

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