We should be conscious of how difficult it is to acquire human existence...
Reflecting on this, notice how this achievement , thanks to the compassion of our teachers and the Three Jewels and due to the power of our good karma - we are in the position to achieve an objective corresponding to one of the three spiritual capacities of beings: high rebirth in samsara or definitive benefit (i.e liberation or even enlightenment). In this human state, however, death can strike at any moment, for the causes remain uncertain and there is no saying that we shall not be dead before this very evening!
The only thing keeping us alive is the in breath... and the out breath...
And if we fail to practice the sublime dharma, which is so helpful to ourselves and others, and if we simply stay as we are frittering away this human existence in distraction, rendering our freedom and advantages meaningless, how can we possibly expect to find the excellence of this human form again? We shall certainly fail. Therefore the great bodhisattva being, Shantideva warns us not to render ineffectual these freedoms and advantages - the leisure and opportunity - not to let it go to waste.
To repeat, we have at present gained a human life, endowed with freedom and advantages, we have met with a qualified spiritual master and received and read profound teachings. Now that we have happened upon this situation, s hard to find, so easy to destroy, we must reflect again and again on the tremendous chance that lies within our reach.
All the great exploits of worldly life we should should just cast aside, and we should reject outright all trivial pursuits. And while we have the light of life, we should spend our life simply practicing the dharma. We must be quick to seize the essence of our freedoms and advantages!
As the glorious Atisha Dipankara said:
This life is so short, so many things to know!
You have no notion of how long you have to live.
So like the swan that milk from water strains,
Pursue the goal that you yourself desire.
Think about it...
Using the Mind as the Basis for Bodhicitta
Shantideva uses the image of the deep darkness of a sunless night unlit by the moon, when the sky is covered by thick clouds that hide the stars, and when everything is suddenly and for a split second illuminated by a flash of lightning.
The present situation of sentient beings is indeed like such a night, for the sun of omniscient primordial wisdom does not shine...it is a state of profound obscurity.
For beings are ignorant of what they should do and what they should avoid.
(We are indeed lost, stuck, yet the medicine exists - drink it!)
The light of the Buddhas' and Bodhisattvas' pure aspirations of the past and the coming together of the merit of sentient beings wishing to turn their minds to virtue - a rare occasion.
Usually the minds of ordinary beings are overshadowed by the gloom of ignorance.
Such virtuous thoughts are simply the desire or willingness to do something good and positive. These are fleeting impulses and do not often happen (perhaps once in a hundred times or twice in a thousand). They are extremely rare.
Therefore if the state of mind of actually wanting to accomplish something good occurs to you, you should be like a blind man who has managed to catch hold of a cow's tail.
You should resolve never to lose it, but to develop it more and more.
Don't ask your father.
Don't discuss io with our mother.
Don't let others decide for you.
Just make up your own mind and be independent.
Do not give yourself over to others, but be like a yak with its nose rope tied over its own head.
Leave your enemies over to their own devices, let your fields dry up.
Practice earnestly, instead the ten innermost riches of the Kadampa masters of old.
(see below for this advice)
Tell yourself: "I will truly practice the sacred dharma"
And once this vow is taken the pledge must be fulfilled!
The three vajras (indestructible thunderbolt) of Tsangpa Gyare say:
Start with the indestructible decision of no procrastination, conclude with the indestructible decision of no need to be ashamed and take as your indestructible companion primordial wisdom.
The three fierce mantras are:
"Whatever has to happen, let it happen!"
"Whatever the situation is, it is fine!" and
"I really don't need anything!"
The Bulk extracted from Khenpo Khunpel's commentary The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech on Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Shantideva - transl. by the Padmakara Group, Asian Edition 2008
The Innermost Treasure (Jewel) of the Kadampa Masters
These are the ten innermost jewels of the Kadampas.
By merely keeping them in the heart, the fortress of delusion collapses, the ship of evil negative karma disintegrates and one will reach the very blissful ground of remedy. Therefore, if one has these ten innermost jewels, one will achieve liberation and enlightenment quickly and without hardships; and, by the way, one will attain the happiness of this life and the happiness of all future lives.
I request the possessor of the mighty one, the kind Gurus, the direct and indirect Gurus, please bless me to give up this life, as in the holy biographies of the previous holy beings.
By seeing sickness, old age and death, the unequaled son of Tsetsang (Prince Siddhartha) felt great sadness and then abandoned his reign of the kingdom. At the end of six years, having lived the austere life of an ascetic, on the banks of the great river Naranza, he became fully Enlightened. Like that, as in the life stories of the previous holy beings who reflected on impermanence and death, felt great sorrow, gave up this life, practiced in solitary places and achieved Enlightenment in one life; in this way, reflect on the nature of the uncertainty of death: Why shouldn't I give up the activities of this life-- home, field, house, relatives, food, wealth--all of which do not allow pure Dharma practice to arise?
Except for the needs for survival-the three robes, begging bowl, and so forth--, I won't keep gold or jewels or anything extra, not even one piece, for myself. What is definite to occur for me is death. At that time, wealth, family, friends (cats and dogs, too) will not benefit me. Furthermore, there is the suffering of separation from them. By reflecting in this way, I should give up seeking the means of this life.
I should entrust the depths of my attitudes to the Dharma.
I should entrust the depths of the Dharma to the beggar.
I should entrust the depths of the beggar to death.
I should entrust the depths of death to the cave.
I should proceed well with the uncaptured vajra. (By proceeding with vajra mind, not changing from renouncing this life, I practice Dharma without being captured by the beloved ones.)
I should definitely leave behind the vajra without shyness. (Leave behind worldly concern: Whatever people say about me, good or bad, I won't change my mind when I go out into the world with renunciation for this life. This mind is the vajra without shyness.)
The transcendent wisdom vajra should accompany me. (I should equalize Dharma and my life together without transgressing the commitment to renouncing this life I live in.) I should attempt to be out of line with the human beings. (I should be out of line with worldly human beings who are attached to this life.) I should keep the lowly position, wearing ragged clothes.
I should reach to the line of dogs and achieve to the line of devas. (Accept the loss of food, clothing and reputation. No matter how much hunger, thirst, hardship happens, I will bear it to practice Dharma. When one gives up all the works of the mundane world and completes one's practice in solitary places, one achieves the Supramundane Deva of the Deva, which is Enlightenment in this life.)
In short, the impermanence and death will come soon. Now is the time to give up this life. Due to the compassion of the Guru and my own virtue, may I be able to give up the work of this life.
If one recites these words verbally and reflects on their meaning, one will be able to give up quickly the works of this life completely
This text was written by the highly attained lama, Tsokdrug Rangdrol. It was translated by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche on the 23rd day of the first month of the year of the Earth Rabbit, March 10, 1999, at Kacho Dechen Ling, Aptos, CA, USA; dictated to Ven. Lhundup Ningje. May all beings benefit . Reprinted with permission from Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.
May all beings swiftly achieve the perfect state of Buddhahood!