Thursday, March 28, 2013

Checklist: Do You have a 'Precious' Human Life

Although I have won these freedoms, I am poor in Dharma, 
which is their essence.
Although I have entered the Dharma, 
I waste time doing other things.
Bless me and foolish beings like me
That we may attain the very essence 
of the freedoms and advantages. 
~Patrul Rinpoche

This life of ours presents us with great opportunity, but it is how we use that opportunity that determines whether it is meaningful.  The Buddha called a human life 'precious' only when it was endowed with all aspects of the freedoms and advantages.  As long as those freedoms and advantages are incomplete no amount of knoweldge or talent will make it meaningful.

Eight Freedoms
___   Freedom from birth in a hell realm where beings have no opportunity to 
         practice the Dharma because they are constantly tormented by intense suffering.
___   Freedom from birth in the hungry ghost realm where beings have no opportunity
         to practice the Dharma because they experience overwhelming hunger and thirst.  
___   Freedom from birth in the animal realm where beings have no opportunity to 
         practice the Dharma because they suffer slavery and continuous attacks and abuse.
___   Freedom from birth in the god realms where beings have no opportunity to 
         practice the Dharma because they spend their time in blank mental states.
___   Freedom from being born in foreign countries where the teachings of the Buddha are unknown.
___   Freedom from wrong views where there is no opportunity to practice the Dharma 
         because their minds are so influenced by mistaken beliefs.
___   Freedom from birth in a dark kalpa where beings never hear of the Dharma and cannot 
         distinguish good actions from bad.  
___   Free from being born with incomplete faculties that prevents beings from properly 
         learning, comprehending and practicing the teachings.  

Five Individual Advantages
___   The advantage of support.  You were born with a human body.
___   The advantage of place.  You were born in a region where the Dharma can be heard.  
___   The advantage of sense faculties.  You are free from disabilities that serve as a hindrance
         to hearing and practicing the Dharma.  
___   The advantage of intention.  You wish to do positive actions and are free from a conflicting 
         lifestyle immersed in negativity.
___   The advantage of faith.  You have the ability to turn your mind to the Dharma.  

Five Circumstantial Advantages
___   The advantage of a teacher.  A Buddha has appeared in this world.
___   The advantage of the teaching.   The Buddha turned the Wheel of Dharma. 
___   The advantage of time.  The teaching has remained until the present period. 
___   The advantage of your own good fortune.  You can take up the Dharma.
___   The advantage of extraordinary compassion.  You have met a Spiritual Friend you can 
         teach you what the Dharma is really about.  

Eight Intrusive Circumstances that leave no freedom to practice
___   Strong negative emotions.  If anger, desire, jealousy and other negative emotions are 
         too strong they dominate the mind and leave no opportunity for practice.
___   Very ignorant being.  Those who lack the slightest glimmer of intelligence are unable 
         to understand a single word of the teachings or its meaning.  
___   Dominated by negative influences.  Those who take imposters as their spiritual friends 
         suffer from wrong views and practice in a perverted manner.
___   Excessive laziness.  Those who lack even a trace of diligence will never accomplish 
         anything because they are so ensnared in their own indolence and procrastination.
___   A backlog of negative actions.  Those who practice the Dharma but do not develop any 
         positive qualities because of a long history of negative actions and end up losing
         confidence in the teachings without realizing that it is all due to their past actions. 
___   Slaves who have lost their autonomy and have no time to practice.
___   Fear for this present life's dangers and resources.  Those who practice the Dharma but
         without conviction give themselves up to old habits and non-Dharma activities.
___   A hypocritical practitioner who tries to win possessions, services and prestige.  In the
         midst of others they assume the guise of a practitioner but in their own minds they are
         only interested in this life and the eight worldly concerns.  

Eight Incompatible Propensities that leave no freedom to practice
___   Being tightly bound to your wealth, commitments, pleasures, family and so forth 
         such that there is no time to practice.
___   Those who lack any respect or have a depraved character. 
___   Those who have no regard for lower rebirths, the sufferings experienced in samsara and
         has no determination to strive for freedom and thus no reason to practice.  
___   Those who have no confidence in the teacher or the Dharma and thus no entry point 
         to the path of liberation.
___   Those who take pleasure in negative actions and fail to control their thoughts, words and
___   Those who have no regard for spiritual values and experience no enthusiasm for Dharma.
___   Those who break their vows and commitment to developing bodhicitta.
___   Those who break their commitments with the spiritual friend and sangha destroy any
         prospect of accomplishments. 

Do you have the eight freedoms and ten advantages?  Are you really free from lower rebirths, even in this present life?  Are you free from the sixteen factors that leave no room in your life to practice Dharma?  Use this checklist to remind yourself of what you have gained in this life and if you find that aspects are missing strive diligently until they are complete. 

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