On the path of awakening,
you need to know your world, so you need to know yourself.
For this the Dharma is an unmatched guide. Once on
the path, you may decide that this life is an opportunity
for you to take charge of your own evolutionary process,
and the Dharma is the art for doing this effectively.
Taking advantage of such an opportunity requires that
you be brave and concentrated and that you first master
the basic structure of the path.
Are you taking advantage of the opportunities
of this—your—lifetime? Are you realizing
the potential of a human life? Is your
life a benefit to others and yourself?
Or are you letting this lifetime slip
Buddha — with the insight of a psychologist
and a social scientist —recognized that we act
and behave in accord with what we understand to be
reality. You are not going to commit hara-kiri if you
believe there’s going to be some terrible result
in a future life. We have in our minds what we think,
as a baseline of reality, is in our self interest,
what’s healthy for us. And self-interest is determined
by what your situation is. We’re constantly
evaluating where we go, what we do — should we go forward
is there quicksand in that direction? We’re practical
in this sense.
Reflect on some of the ways
this is true for you.
The four contemplations
Four Reminders form the bedrock of Buddhist
practice. They encourage us to make our
lives meaningful. H.H. Dalai
In this course you reflect on some basic themes
with which to begin your relationship to the path
of inner development.
the preciousness, magnificence of
our human embodiment endowed with liberty and opportunity
the immediacy of death
the infinity of causality and consequentiality
and connectedness to everything
the inherently and fundamentally
wretched state of being self-centered vs. the universe
It’s in our
practical interest to be clear about these four
basic themes, and so we think about them, we
reflect on them, we remind ourselves about them.
These four contemplations
are often referred to as the
four thoughts that turn the mind.
Turn the mind to what? To the Dharma,
to the path
of practice that leads
from suffering and disillusionment
to awakening and happiness. Contemplating
these thoughts, we aspire to a
life of Dharma,
These four contemplations are
also called the
four thoughts that transform the
mind. Can thoughts transform
the mind? Reflecting on these four
thoughts can indeed transform our
habitual negative thoughts and
profoundly affect the way we
view the world.
Sometimes the four thoughts
are referred to as the
four reminders. These
reflections remind us of the preciousness
of human life and remind us to
turn our mind from attachment and
And these are also called the
are our inspiration for studying
and living the Dharma, and they
keep us focused on our ultimate