Meditation On Buddha Shakyamuni

Prepare for this meditation by doing a few minutes of breathing meditation (focus your attention on your breath) to calm your mind. Then bring your attention to the suffering that all sentient beings undergo: the sufferings of heat and cold, hunger and thirst. Just as you experience many sufferings, remember that all mother sentient beings experience suffering at least equal to--if not greater than--your own. Determine to undertake this practice in order to awaken your own buddha-nature, quickly attain enlightenment and lead all other sentient beings to that same state of permanent, lasting happiness.

Visualization

Buddha ShakyamuniThe visualization of Lord Buddha is composed entirely of light, not mundane materials. In the space before you, at the level of your forehead, imagine a jewel-encrusted, golden throne. Each corner is supported by two snow lions with white bodies and turquoise manes and tails; these are the embodiment of bodhisattvas. On the flat surface of the throne is a fully opened lotus; this is symbolic of the awakened mind, arising from the mire of samsara. On the petals of the lotus are the flat disks of the sun and moon which serve as cushions for the Buddha, representing the Buddha's realizations of emptiness and bodhicitta. On the moon disk sits Buddha Shakyamuni.

Buddha's body is made of golden light. He is seated in the "full vajra" or lotus posture. He is dressed in the robes of a monk which do not actually touch his body, but are separated from it by about an inch. His face is very serene and beautiful; each hair on his head is individually curled to the right, not mingling with or touching others; his ear lobes are long; and his eyes are slightly opened.

His left hand rests in his lap in the meditation pose, holding a begging bowl, filled with nectar. The palm of his right hand rests on his right knee and his fingers touch the moon disk upon which he sits; this symbolizes his great control over anger, attachment and ignorance.

Taking Refuge

From your heart, recite the refuge prayer and visualize that streams of golden-white light radiate from the Buddha's body in all directions, blessing you and all sentient beings.

You may also visualize texts of Dharma teachings on thrones near the Buddha which emanate with the sounds of the teachings contained in them. Imagine teachers you have read or heard seated on similar thrones around the Buddha. Imagine also that you are surrounded in space by all sentient beings in human form; your father and male friends and relatives are seated on your right; your mother and female friends and relatives are seated on your left; those you don't know and call "strangers" reach out to the vastness of space; those you call "enemies" are seated between you and the Merit Field of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, symbolic of anger in our mindstreams that separates us from feeling loving-kindness toward all beings and hinders our advancement to full buddhahood.

Imagine that you lead all these sentient beings in reciting the refuge prayer three times:

    I go for refuge until I am enlightened
    To the Buddha, the Dharma and the Supreme Assembly.
    By the merit I create by practicing giving and other perfections,
    May I become a Buddha for the sake of all sentient beings.

Requests and Inspiration

From your heart, generate the request to the Buddha that he grant you inspiration to follow the path to full enlightenment; make this request on behalf of all living beings who are trapped in samsara.

Rays of light stream from the figure of the Buddha before you. This light enters your body and quickly removes all negativities, obscurations and hindrances, freeing you to progress quickly on the path. Imagine that this light flows not only to you, but to all living beings situated in space around you. Imagine that they all receive such inspiration and blessings as you recite the name mantra of Shakyamuni Buddha as many times as possible.

  tayata om muni muni maha munaye soha  

The Blessing of Body, Speech and Mind

Imagine that rays of light stream from the crown of Buddha's head to your crown; this light purifies the negatities of your body and removes the hindrances to attaining the enlightened body of a Buddha.

  tayata om muni muni maha munaye soha  

Rays of light then stream from the Buddha's throat to yours, pufifying the negativities of your speech and removing hindrances to attaining the enlightened speech that communicates clearly to all sentient beings, regardless of their level or capacity.

  tayata om muni muni maha munaye soha  

Finally, rays of light emanate from the Buddha's heart and enter your own heart center. This light purifies the negativities of your mind and remove hindrances to the awakened, omniscient mind.

  tayata om muni muni maha munaye soha  

Imagine that these light rays flow to all sentient beings, helping them to quickly reach a state of supreme awareness.

Maintain this visualization for as long as you can, reciting the mantra quietly to yourself or aloud and imagine that the light continues to stream from the Buddha to you and all sentient beings. Imagine that nectar accompanies the light and nourishes you completely, such is the nature of the Dharma.

Absorption

Imagine that the teachers and their thrones dissolve into light and are absorbed into the Buddha's body. Next, imagine that the texts and their thrones dissolve similarly and absorb into the Buddha. Imagine now that the throne is absorbed into the lotus, the lotus into the sun, the sun into the moon and the moon into the body of the Buddha. Buddha now comes to the crown of your head, facing the same direction as you, dissolves into brilliant, white light and dissolves into your body through the crown of your head, filling your body once again with this brilliant light.

Feel great bliss and joy as your body, speech and mind are completely transformed. Hold this feeling for as long as you can, experiencing the removal of all hindrances and obstructions to omniscience.

From this state, imagine in the space where you are sitting, arising from emptiness are the snow lions, the throne, lotus, sun and moon disks and yourself seated upon them in the same aspect as you visualized the Buddha before. Visualize and really feel that you have attained the state of omniscience; feel the enlightened compassion and wisdom of buddhahood.

At your heart appear sun and moon disks. At the center of the moon disk, standing upright, is the syllable MUM. Surrounding this are the syllables of Shakyamuni Buddha's name mantra: tayata om muni muni maha munaye soha. Streams of light flow from the MUM and mantra at your heart center to all sentient beings, completely removing their hindrances, obstructions, wrong views, delusions and traces of ignorance and thereby transforming them into the form of the Buddha as well. Meditate in this way for as long as possible, reciting the mantra quietly to yourself.

This portion of the meditation is called "bringing the result into the path." It is a very powerful method for transforming our normal view of and how we behave in the world. The result of our practiceis to attain full enlightenment; this activity of bringing the result of buddhahood to our present state is a powerful, transformative tool. You should not imagine that your body, speech or mind are the same; they have arisen from emptiness and manifested in the form of a buddha. This activity enables you to transform yourself and surroundings into vehicles that lead to full, perfect enlightenment.

Dedication

When you have completed this meditation, dedicate the positive potential of this practice to the benefit of all living beings, that they may be liberated from the hardships of cyclic existence and placed in a state of perfect peace and happiness. Remind yourself that your initial motivation for doing this meditation is to actually attain such a state as the means to be able to lead all other sentient beings to full enlightenment.

In your daily routine, bring to mind the feeling and attitude that you felt when you were just imagining the state of buddhahood. When your activities become particularly stressful, remember that such a state comes about by grasping after your "I" or some sort of non-existent self, by putting the interests of this "self" before all other mother sentient beings. Simply remembering a peaceful, blissful state--filled with love and compassion--is often enough to relieve a stressful situation; such times can be transformed into happiness by such a rememberance.

At other times, when you want to eradicate all traces of a disturbing attitude, simply reciting the Buddha's mantra om muni muni maha munaye soha is often enough inspiration to transform that state into one of peace and happiness. Reminding yourself that you are a "Child of the Buddha" and wishing to attain happiness for yourself and others helps to gradually remove such states of mind completely. When you do so, remember to dedicate the merit or positive potential to all beings, that they might do the same.

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