Four Thoughts

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[Precious Human Birth]

In order to obtain the framework for the practice of dharma, this precious human existence, which, in being free and well favored, offers excellent opportunities, one must practice excellent virtue, since this is its karmic seed. Since the proportion of sentient beings that do practice virtue thoroughly is very small, the result, a free and well-favored existence, is difficult to obtain.

When one considers the numbers of other sentient beings, such as animals, it is evident that human existence is just a remote possibility. Therefore, you should, above all else, work at dharma wholeheartedly so that the human existence now obtained is not wasted.

[Uncertainty of Life]

Furthermore, since life is uncertain, the causes of death are numerous, and one can't even be sure that death won't come today, one must exert oneself in the dharma right away. At the time of death, except for virtuous and nonvirtuous actions, nothing will follow, not wealth, food, possessions, nor land, body, or status. Since these are not even as helpful as a straw, there is not the slightest need for them.


After death, the power of karma causes one to experience birth in one of the six classes of beings. Whichever it is, there will be nothing but suffering, not even a strand of happiness. Since happiness and suffering infallibly develop from virtuous and non-virtuous actions, one should not do anything evil even at the risk of your life. One should practice only virtuous actions with great diligence. You should energetically train yourself in this kind of thinking.

[Abandon Attachment]

At the end of every period of meditation, perform the seven-branch prayer [which dedicates merit to others] as many times as you are able to. In post-meditation periods, put the points of your reflections into practice.

These instructions apply to all forms of preparation and actual practice.

~ Jamgön Kongtrul, trans. Ken McLeod.  The Great Path of Awakening, 1993. (Incl. Chekawa's  7 Points of Mind-training.)

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