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No Progress in Practice

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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A student felt that her practice was not progressing. Though she had the motivation and plans for practice, she always seemed to take a step back and felt blocked.

My dear Rena,

What you explained in your letter is the same as myself—I plan to practice, but then it doesn’t happen.

All the problems are because of not having meditated well on impermanence and death. You should read Heart-Spoon by Pabongka Rinpoche and other things on impermanence and death.

Think, “Today children died in their mother’s womb, even after the consciousness took place on the fertilized egg; other children died just after being born. Many young, middle-aged and old people also died. Not only those with cancer died. Many people are dying every day from car accidents, from heart attacks. People suddenly die in so many ways. Therefore, I could be dead at any time. Any year, any month, any week, even today, I could die. After death there are only two ways: rebirth in the lower realms or in the higher realms. There’s no third option.”

Like a waterfall or like waves on the ocean, negative karmas come one after another. It is difficult to practice pure Dharma, to create pure virtue. Many times we do things thinking it is virtue, but it doesn’t become Dharma, even some Dharma practice. We don’t practice compassion, we don’t practice patience; then anger and heresy arise, then the merit is destroyed, depending on who we get angry with. If a non-bodhisattva gets angry with a bodhisattva they destroy 1,000 eons of merits from making offerings to Buddha and so forth for each second they get angry.

If we get angry with a buddha, wow, wow, wow! It must be hundreds of thousands or millions of eons of merit that get destroyed. And then there is the guru, the most powerful object, more powerful than numberless buddhas. Giving rise to heresy or anger with the guru for even one second destroys so many eons of merit in that one second. Even Buddhists don’t pay attention to these practices of patience and compassion.

The other thing is that even if some Dharma practice that collects merit is done, if it’s not dedicated to enlightenment for sentient beings, it can be completely destroyed by rising anger, heresy, ill will and so forth. Even merit dedicated to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, if it’s not sealed with emptiness, the merit becomes weaker. It needs to be sealed with emptiness. For example, if there is a huge rocky mountain, even if trucks take away many loads of dirt, the rest of the mountain is there.

Seal with emptiness by reciting the following dedication: “Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and those collected by numberless sentient beings and numberless buddhas, which do not exist from their own side at all but are totally empty, may the I, which does not exist from its own side but is totally empty, achieve the state of omniscient mind, which does not exist from its own side but is totally empty, and lead all the sentient beings, who do not exist from their own side but are totally empty from their own side, to that state of omniscient mind, which does not exist from its own side but is totally empty, by myself alone, who does not exist at all from its own side but is totally empty.”

With much love and prayer...