12. The Impermanence of Those in Positions of Power
Longchen Nyingtik Meditation 12
Take refuge and arouse bodhichitta.
Reflect that the powerful lords of the world—Brahma, Indra, Ishvara, Visnu and the Great Rishis—possess the five clairvoyances and numerous miraculous powers and, shining with a radiant splendor of fame, wisdom and merits, they live as long as several kalpas. In Han history, sages like Confucius and Lao Tzu, and great emperors of the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, with their impressive intelligence and retinues, all enjoyed great renown unmatched by many others. Even so, they all eventually had to die. What is there to say about us negligible beings the like of tiny ants? Even though you may possess some fame and wealth for a while, your bubble-like bodies of flesh and sinew are nothing concrete, and will disappear in the end, becoming a pile of pale bones.
Since all phenomena are transient and everything is left behind at death, I must therefore resolve: In my short life I will practice the authentic Dharma, the only valuable activity for future lives.
Dedicate all the merit of your practice to all sentient beings.
These points are vital at the outset and you must put them into practice. Without building a solid foundation in practicing the preliminaries, any subsequent practices will prove to be daunting. A mere theoretical understanding of the instruction is not enough; you must chew on it to get a real taste of the meaning. If you don’t do well in class sessions, consult Khenpo Ngakchung’s commentaries in A Guide to the Words of My Perfect Teacher and make painstaking efforts in your own meditation, and be persistent. As a matter of fact, what meditation boils down to is to reach some kind of heartfelt feeling or belief which, incidentally, is also pivotal in many other endeavors. For me personally, given that I don’t have much time for extensive preparation of my lectures, I always first look for a conviction or a resonance of the text. If I were to give a teaching without finding such a feeling, I would be less happy with myself even though I might say a lot.
In the same vein, the key of the meditation on this instruction is to feel that it really makes sense: “Yes, all the exalted beings in the world, whether gods or humans, are all impermanent, not to mention myself. I must focus on practicing the Dharma I have learned.” If you train yourself always this way, you are likely to succeed in your practice; otherwise, you are but an armchair practitioner who gets nowhere.
In the study of The Preliminaries this year, you are occupied with the outer preliminary practices as well as the inner ones of prostrations and so forth. Through the blessings of the Three Jewels and our lineage masters, I believe the essence of the preliminaries will surely dawn in your mind.
If you do a decent job in these preliminary practices, you are on the right track and in twenty years you will remain an authentic spiritual practitioner. Failing these preliminaries, on the contrary, even if I were to confer on you today a “pointing-out” pith instruction of the nature of the mind, you simply won’t get it. Without the requisite foundation, your mind will remain untamed and unresponsive, worse, in twenty years, you may become a bunch of tirthikas, holding wrong views.
In all, this meditation instruction is exceptional, as to whether you can relish its exquisite flavor, it hinges on you yourself.