1. Reflecting on the Nature of Freedom
Longchen Nyingtik Meditation 1
Take refuge and arouse bodhichitta.
The Main Part
Contemplate over and over again that you did not fall into the eight unfree states and have obtained a precious human existence. You have every reason to be joyful and must strive to practice the Dharma.
If you were born in the hell realm, you would suffer perpetually in the hot and cold hells, so you would have no opportunity to practice the Dharma whatsoever.
If you were born a hungry ghost, you would always suffer from hunger and thirst, so you would have no opportunity to practice the Dharma.
If you were born in the animal realm, you would be subject to predation, enslavement, and slaughtering, so you would have no opportunity to practice the Dharma.
If you were born as a long-living god, you would be trapped in a state of mental blankness for kalpas, and at death give rise to erroneous views and fall into lower realms, so you would have no opportunity to practice the Dharma.
If you were born in a borderland where the buddha’s teachings were not available, you would not know what listening, contemplating, and meditating entails, so you would have no opportunity to practice the Dharma.
If you were born among tirthikas, your mind would be entangled in wrong views, so you would have no opportunity to practice the Dharma.
If you were born in a dark kalpa when no buddhas were born, you would not even hear the name of the Three Jewels, so you would have no opportunity to practice the Dharma.
If you were born mute or mentally deficient, you would lack the mental capacity to receive the Dharma, so you would have no opportunity to practice the Dharma.
Although many circumstances can obstruct spiritual pursuit, they are broadly included in these eight kinds of rebirths. Therefore, resolve: Luckily in this life I was not born in any of them, otherwise the door of Dharma will be forever shut to me. Being free from unfavorable rebirths and having the opportunity to practice the Dharma is called “endowed with freedom,” which is exactly what I enjoy now. Therefore, I must focus only on the Dharma and practice it diligently.
Dedicate all the merit of your practice to all sentient beings.
This series of practice does not mean to sit quietly or to sit thoughtlessly. Instead, the mind actively engages in analysis, checking the meditation instruction point by point. Having gone through the reflective meditation process, “a precious human birth” no longer appears as empty mouthing, rather, its meaning will touch your heart. Later, when you see animals or meet tirthikas, you may secretly congratulate yourself that you were not one of them. If you have not actually practiced, on the other hand, you won’t appreciate your precious opportunity and will remain oblivious even when meeting the less fortunate animals and wrong-headed tirthikas.
This practice does not stipulate that you empty your mind and allow no thinking at all. Before you start, it’s best to read the text first and grasp its meaning such that you need not refer back to it during sitting. A meditation done with a prior clear comprehension will elicit in you a distinctive experience.
In the past, many great masters persistently meditated on these preliminary instructions and thus were able to apply them to their daily lives effectively. I hope you will also gain some meditative experiences. It is normal that in the beginning, your conceptual mind will take wild rides beyond your control. But as time goes on, such obstacles will dissipate and you’ll eventually get the hang of it and gain more meditative experiences.
Mipham Rinpoche advised that beginners must first engage in analytic meditation and then move to calm abiding meditation. What we are doing now is the part of “analytic meditation” that employs the thinking mind to reflect, rather than to settle the mind in one-pointedness; if the mind incessantly fantasizes, we need to pull it back and force it to reflect upon the meaning of the teaching. This is how to go about this practice.