In the seventh in a new video series, “Advice from the Teachers”, the Venerable Acharya Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, Spiritual Head of Gaden for the West Centers, answers a student’s question:
What advice would you give to a student for keeping motivated and excited about daily practice?
Rinpoche explains the importance of regular daily practice, inspired by meditating on impermanence. He strongly advises study of the lives of the great Yogis and Yoginis, and also study of the Lamrim teachings to help inspire enthusiasm.
Full transcript below video. Play video here:
“This is a good question. I would say, in order to have good motivation, first you have to study Dharma, study Lamrim. You have to learn, and you have to know, the importance of Dharma practice in every day life. And the benefit of Dharma practice in every day life.
Continuity, ongoing, is very important. It’s like a river, or say a creek. If it’s always running, it will help the area, the valley I would say. It will keep the moisture along the bank of the river. Plants and trees, flowers and so forth will grow. Also, animals will be there. They come to the water.
Like that, if you are always practicing — doesn’t matter how much — the continuity will be there, the moisture is there. Then, there’s ongoing merit, virtues always growing! Then, when you have more time, more energy, it will be easier to resume, because you are always practicing.
Instead of practicing for awhile, then stop, then start all over again. That would take time, and it will be harder. That’s why continuity is very important.. For that reason, motivation and understanding the daily practice, and continuity is very important. You need that motivation.
As I said, in order for you to have the motivation, you have to understand the benefit of Dharma practice. That’s why one should study Lamrim.
Also, there are other [ways] to generate motivation. Study the life stories of previous masters — previous great Yogis and Yoginis — who did so much practice. They accomplished Dharma realization. So, when you read the life stories of great masters, Yogis and Yoginis, and Gurus, then, it will give you inspiration and motivation to do the practice.
Another motivation to practice Dharma is to meditate on impermanence of life. And this is mentioned in the Lamrim teachings. According to the Kadam and Gelug tradition, it says that at the beginning of our Dharma practice, or at the beginning of our meditation, if you concentrate a little bit on the impermanence of life, including death and dying, that will give you motivation to do Dharma practice, because you realize life is very transient, life is short. So, Dharma practice is the most valuable thing, and everything else is secondary. That makes you thin, ‘I should practice Dharma.’
Why? Because Dharma practice is always helpful. Dharma practice is the path to Enlightenment. So, Dharma practice is the most valuable thing. Everything else is secondary.
Think a little bit about the impermanence of life. Of death and dying. All the time, people are dying. See what’s happening in the world — there’s so much suffering, people are dying everywhere to illness, disease, calamities, natural disasters, wars, and so forth. When you think about it like that, it makes you think, ‘I should practice more Dharma.’
Also, end of our life, towards death, Dharma practice is also very important. Some people might think ‘What is the purpose of practicing Dharma at the end of your life. Your life has ended, anyways.’ That sort of thinking is wrong thinking, because, especially when your life is ending, when you are dying, there are different kinds of Dharma practice. There are Dharma practices especially for Death and Dying, such as Phowa practice, meditation on compassion and love, devotional practice, Guru Yoga, these are very important at the time of death so that the Gurus will guide us, our Yidam deities will guide us, at the time of death. And Phowa practice helps us to move on. Instead of going to the Bardo, and being confused, instead we can ‘eject our consciousness’ straight to the Pure Land. And that is why meditation on impermanence is very important. It gives you the motivation.
To motivate Dharma, I would say meditation on impermanence is very beneficial.”
Next week, in Buddhist Advice Video 8, Venerable Zasep Rinpoche answers the student question:
“What practical advice would you give to new students to purify their mental defilements and bad karma? Can you speak about Vajrasattva Purification?”
About Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
Rinpoche is popularly known for his approachable teaching style, strong humor and teachings based on a long lineage of great lamas. His own gurus included the most celebrated of Gelug teachers: His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, His Holiness Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, Venerable Geshe Thupten Wanggyel, His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Venerable Lati Rinpoche, Venerable Tara Tulku Rinpoche and Venerable Khalkha Jetsun Dampa Rinpoche.
Rinpoche is spiritual director of many temples, meditation centres and retreat centres in Australia, the United States and Canada. He was first invited to teach in Australia by Lama Thubten Yeshe in 1976.
Gaden for the West Meditation Centres
- Vajra Ling, Uralla, N.S.W.
- Losang Gyalwa Mandala, Sydney, N.S.W.
- Tenzing Ling Centre, Quamaa, N.S.W.
- Dorje Ling Retreat Centre, Lorina Valley, Tasmania
- Chittamani Mahayana Buddhist Meditation Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
- Gaden Choling, Toronto, Ontario
- Medicine Buddha Centre, Calgary, Alberta
- Potala Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre, Thunder Bay,Ontario
- Tashi Choling, Nelson, B. C.
- Zuru Ling Society, Vancouver, B.C.