Ultimate stages of the path: Seizing our precious human life

This is part 3 in a 31 part series on my understanding of how to practice the ultimate perfection of each stage of the path.

We normally refer to this meditation as the meditation on our precious human life.  But it is important to understand that every stage of the path is a mental action, and therefore the actual meditation of each stage of the path is a verb not a noun.  So while we call this the meditation on our precious human life, we should understand that the meaning here is “the wisdom decision to seize the opportunity afforded by our precious human life.”  According to Sutra, the perfection of this is the wisdom decision to fully seize the opportunity afforded by our precious human life by using it to attain the final goal of full enlightenment so that we may guide all others to the same state.  According to Highest Yoga Tantra, we use our precious human life to attain the specific goal of becoming our Highest Yoga Tantra deity, such as Heruka or Vajrayogini.  The ultimate perfection of this stage of the path, therefore, is the perfection of this wisdom decision according to Highest Yoga Tantra conjoined with an understanding that our precious human life, our act of seizing and the final result we strive for are all empty.

Our “precious human life” can be understood to be empty in two ways.  First, our human life is not precious from its own side, rather it becomes precious in dependence upon our mental decision to use it to accomplish spiritual goals.  All life is, of course, precious, but that is not the meaning here.  Precious in this context means more than the mere existence of human life.  Here our human life is as spiritually precious as the extent to which we use it to accomplish spiritual purposes.  The higher our spiritual purpose, the more precious our life becomes.  If we use our human life to accomplish the highest goal of becoming Heruka or Vajrayogini for the benefit of all, then our human life is the most spiritually precious possible.  If we use our human life to attain personal liberation or to avoid a lower rebirth, our human life is still precious, but less so than if we use it to become a Buddha.  In this context, if we use our human life only to attain goals that concern this life alone, then our human life is not spiritually precious at all.  Thus, the preciousness of our human life depends upon our mind and so is therefore empty.

Second, we can understand the emptiness of our precious human life by understanding that the conditions which make our human life precious, namely the 8 freedoms and the 10 endowments explained in the lamrim teachings, are themselves mere karmic appearances of mind.  The 8 freedoms are in essence freedom from conditions which prevent us from practicing Dharma, such as being born in the lower realms.  The 10 endowments are in essence favorable conditions which give us the actual opportunity to practice Dharma, such as having access to teachings and the mental faculties and disposition necessary to actually practice.  A detailed explanation of these can be found in Joyful Path of Good Fortune.  Where do these 8 freedoms and 10 endowments come from?  They are the karmic results of our own past actions.  In the past we engaged in the actions which created the karmic causes and conditions which are now ripening in the form of our precious human life.  Karma is primarily mental action.  For example, our mental action of engaging in moral discipline created the karma for us to have a human life.  Our mental action of deciding to create the conditions for the Dharma to be available to others, such as by helping out at our centers in the past or giving Dharma teachings, created the causes for the Dharma to be available to us now.  What is the nature of these 8 freedoms and 10 endowments?  They are by nature mere karmic appearances of mind.  They are a mere appearance because each one can be shown to be nothing more than a mental imputation on the basis of a certain collection of parts.  They are a karmic appearance because the appearance itself of these conditions arises in dependence upon karma.  And the nature of these appearances is our mind itself, specifically the emptiness of our mind of great bliss appearing in the aspect of these freedoms and endowments.

Our act of seizing our precious human life itself is also empty.  The actor is our empty self, the object of our action is our empty human life, the action of seizing is a mental decision to change our mind in the ways indicated by the instructions and the effect of the seizing is the karmic potential to experience the inner results of attaining our spiritual goals.  The emptiness of ourself and our empty human life have already been explained.  The action of seizing itself is a mental decision to change our mind in a particular way.  Normally, we allow our mind to be pulled or pushed according to the uncontrolled whims of our delusions.  But the action of seizing is a mental decision to intentionally choose to mentally respond to our life in a different way, such as by avoiding negative actions understanding their karmic consequences or by seeing through the deceptive lies of our delusions and thus not following their misguided advice or by choosing to put the interests of others first.  Each such decision is a mental changing of the shape and inner dynamics of the ocean of our mind.  And the karmic fruit of these actions is a karmic potentiality which will ripen in the future as a mere karmic appearance of our body, mind, environment or enjoyments being those of a Buddha (or something that moves in that direction).

The final result we strive for is also empty.  As explained in the meditation on reliance upon the spiritual guide, a Buddha is empty.  Normally we grasp at our future Buddhahood as somehow being an inherently different being.  No.  Right now, the ocean of our mind is in the aspect of an ordinary contaminated being in an ordinary contaminated world of suffering surrounded by others experiencing a similar fate.  By training our mind in the stages of the path, we karmically reshape the ocean of our mind to appear in the aspect of the Vajra King Heruka in his universal pure land Keajra surrounded by all beings having been led to the final blissfully pure result of full enlightenment.  The ultimate nature of both appearances is the same – namely the emptiness of the ocean of our very subtle mind of great bliss – what changes is our realization of its ultimate nature and its assumed aspect or shape.  Samsara and Nirvana are equally empty, just two different aspects or shapes the emptiness of the ocean of our mind might take.

In short, we practice the ultimate perfection of seizing our precious human life by realizing that our freedoms and endowments are mere karmic appearances of mind, and in dependence upon that understanding we make the mental decision to reshape our mind in the ways indicated by the Dharma instructions for the purpose of creating the karmic potentialities which will ripen in the future in the form of the emptiness of the ocean of our very subtle mind of great bliss assuming the aspect of Heruka or Vajrayogini liberating all the other waves of living beings.

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