Meditation Categories Freedoms and Advantages

4. Reflecting on Analogies Showing the Rarity of Human Birth

Longchen Nyingtik Meditation 4

The Beginning

Take refuge and arouse bodhichitta.

The Main Part

Imagine the whole world turning into a vast ocean. Floating upon its wind-blown surface is a wooden yoke with a hole in it, being tossed here and there nonstop by pounding waves. Living down in the depths of the ocean is a blind turtle that rises up to the surface once every hundred years. The chance that the yoke and the turtle might meet is extremely rare because the blind turtle has no eyes with which to spot the yoke, and the yoke itself has no thought to look for the turtle. Nevertheless, by sheer probability the turtle might still just slip its neck into the yoke’s hole. But it is even more difficult than that to escape the three lower realms and obtain a human existence.

Besides, all odds are against dried peas sticking to a smooth wall when thrown against it. Nonetheless, by sheer chance a pea may stick to the wall, but it is even more difficult than that to obtain a precious human existence.

Reflect: In this life, I did not fall into the lower realms but instead have obtained a human body, and I enjoy conducive circumstances to practice the Dharma which, when examined from any angle, are extremely difficult to come by.  Therefore, I must cherish this hard-earned fortune, and practice the Dharma with joyful perseverance.

The Ending

Dedicate all the merit of your practice to all sentient beings.


When meditating, keep your mind focused. Focused attention does not mean settling your mind in the alaya consciousness or in a neutral state; rather, it is to engage intently in the content of meditation. Meditating as a group has its own benefit. As soon as the mind starts to wander, you notice right away and pull it back to continue contemplation. Earlier, you may not have felt anything when hearing these metaphors; but now, through constant reflection, you will feel strongly that, indeed, a human body is very hard to come by, and these words no longer sound like empty sayings.

The instruction given today is the fourth one. If you follow the recommendation of doing a three-day meditation on one instruction, you would have been meditating for twelve days. I gather some of you are practicing earnestly and making good progress, while others are easily distracted and do not put a lot effort into practicing. Frankly, whether you are old or young in age, this kind of contemplation poses not a bit of a problem.

If you put an honest effort into each instruction, in the future when it comes to higher Vajrayana teachings, you’ll find it easy to attain genuine experiences. On the other hand, if you lack the foundational view on precious human birth and the impermanence of life, trying to realize the more profound states is but building castles in the air.

Previously, my teachings mainly dealt with philosophical analysis; this time, I’m leading you in an actual meditation session, which I feel is a rare opportunity of exercise. Granted, devoid of subtle meditative states on my part, I really should shy away from coaching you. Nonetheless, given that the rarity of human birth is not that unfathomable, I have decided to offer you a simple guide; I am sure with your intelligence you will meditate on it with enthusiasm.