Precious Human Birth

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TharpaChodron
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Precious Human Birth

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:43 pm

So...I was contemplating on how important the concept of "Gratitude" is with our Christian friends and wondering about how the concept of gratitude seems slightly missing from Buddhism. And then, I thought about the Four Reminders, especially the first one - this precious human birth. I think they are somewhat similar.

It dawned on me how important this first reminder is and why, perhaps, it is mentioned first in Ngondro practice. Without appreciation of our human life, no matter how short and/or painful our life may be, the other three reminders can seem a bit hard to swallow. Just my impression, but wondering if any others here have had such a profound "a ha" moment when they finally understood how vital gratitude for this precious human birth is.

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Tilopa
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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by Tilopa » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:10 am

Many years ago a renowned Yogi who lived in the forest above Dharamsala gave a teaching to a group of Western students.

After the usual preliminary prayers he began by talking about the precious human rebirth.....and burst into tears.

Sometimes it's the foundational teachings that move the mind the most.

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by Sennin » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:35 am

I've heard meditation on precious human life and impermanence is what motivated Milarepa, omniscient Longchenpa and vidyādhara Jigme Lingpa etc. to make progress in the dharma.
"One should always recite mantra, purifying the body."
--Cakrasaṃvara Tantra

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:45 am

One of my teachers was once asked a question like this - on 'gratitude' in Dharma...and she said something like "Yeah, gratitude is amorphous"....a weird statement, but somehow it fit.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:38 am

I learned a lot about that, or rather, a sense of gratitude was triggered by reading David Brazier's books on Pure Land. There is a sense in which the devotee's faith in Amitabha (Immeasurable Buddha) mirrors the Christian sense of faith. The last ten years or so also I have gotten into the habit of saying 'thank you for this day' every night before sleeping. All of these are culminating in awakening a sense of gratitude which permeates. Something very close to grace. And I'm thankful for it. :smile:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:43 am

Once, I was looking around for something in a supermarket, and I suddenly realised how beautifully everything was arranged and presented. I suppose a modern supermarket is probably environmentally extravagant, and everything, but the feeling at that moment was, how carefully-prepared everything was, and how lucky I was to be able to benefit from it. I mean, I know they're doing it for profit, and the people working there are doing it for an income, but just for that moment, I nevertheless felt profoundly grateful for all the effort, resources, work, and care that went into making that place what it was. I think that was a kind of experience of grace - in quite an unlikely setting. Speaking of which, I am starting to feel the urge to say a few words of gratitude at meal-times. Just like my grandparents did. :emb:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by Vasana » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:15 am

Reflecting with gratitude to our mother's kindness in raising us is one of the causal contemplations for generating bodhichitta, too.

From this thread of Dharma Gems ;
viewtopic.php?t=1325&start=80

  • Jetsun Taranatha's Essence of Ambrosia, Contemplation on the Causal Links that Lead to the Attainment of Buddhahood
    I need to attain buddhahood. I therefore need to cultivate bodhicitta since it is the cause of buddhahood. The cause of bodhicitta is compassion. The cause of compassion is love. The cause of love is appreciation and gratefulness. The cause of appreciation is recognising all sentient beings have been my parents. I should meditate on developing these qualities in stages.

    -Meditate again and again.-

    All sentient beings are my parents--they have been so kind to me. Wouldn't it be right if they were to be free from suffering? Wouldn't it be right for them to be comfortable and happy? I will, therefore, attain buddhahood in order to establish them all in happiness. Once I have attained buddhahood, I will also place all sentient beings on the level of buddhahood.

    [... in the annals of the graduated teachings called The Necessary Stages of Mind Training in the Mahayana, this quote appears: "You should train your mind by stages in the seven causal links found in Atisha's extraordinary Mahayana teachings".

    Atisha's presentation of the seven causal links states that buddhahood is not without causes and conditions. Buddhahood arises from the cause of bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is born from a pure and excellent motivation. A pure motivation arises from great compassion. Great compassion arises from love. Love arises from seeing all sentient beings with affection. Seeing beings with affection arises from appreciation and gratefulness. Appreciation and gratefulness arise from developing the perception of sentient beings as your mothers.]

    ...

    Jetsun Taranatha's Essence of Ambrosia, Contemplation on Love for Your Mother
    The mother who gave birth to me in this life has been extremely kind to me. First she held me in her womb for nine or ten months. During her pregnancy, she protected me, cherishing me more than her own life. She gave me my human body, my life, my energy.

    Then from the time I was born, she helped me with her own body. She cradled me with her ten fingers, warmed me with the heat of her flesh, nursed me from her breasts, tasted my food and wiped the filth from my bottom with her own hands. At the time that I was unable to do anything for myself and was as helpless as a bug, she cared for me.

    She helped me with her speech. She called out to me in terms of endearment. She praised me without reason. She extolled my qualities when I had none. Even when my performance of tasks was mediocre, she was overjoyed.

    She benefited me with her mind. She was constantly concerned about my welfare thinking, "I must ensure that this child of mine has a long life. I must make sure he does not get sick. I must make sure he is honored by others. Will people admire him? Will he be successful?".

    When I first learned how to sit up, learned to walk and spoke my first words, she was overwhelmed with joy. As I grew older, not only was she free of anxiety about giving me whatever she possessed, she did so joyfully. She wouldn't have had the slightest hesitation about giving me all the wealth and clothing in the universe.

    How exceedingly my mother helped me and cared for me! She loved me and was so kind to me! Would it not be right for her to be comfortable now and always? Would it not be right for her to be happy?

    I must establish my mother in unsurpassable comfort and happiness.

    [This meditation on love for one's own mother is the root of all practices focusing on the development of love. Because it is easy to develop love this way, it is important to continue practicing this contemplation until the experience of love wells up in you]
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by Vasana » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:26 am

Karmapa elaborates on the above practice of feeling gratitude and love for the kindness of parents by extending gratitude to the kindness we receive from beings in this life. Our food, water, clothes, shelter, education, health services, transport, infrastructure, community, technology, Phone, internet etc...all of it we completly depend upon the kindness and efforts of others for. :group: it's so pervasive and just part of our everyday experience that we take much of it for granted

As we also know, not everyone has these privileges and nor do all humans have a 'precious human birth.'
  • “If we do not believe in past lives,” he suggested, “there is still a way that we can meditate on all living beings resembling our mothers by reflecting on the situation in this world where we live. These times are known as the Information Era, and thanks to the Internet, we are becoming increasingly connected.” If we think about it a bit, he said, we can see clearly that our very lives depend on other people and other things. Usually the food we eat was grown by others, and the clothes we wear were stitched by others. We do not see or know them, yet still receive their kindness. “Therefore,” he concluded, “we depend on each other and support each other. This is our situation in the world. The kindness of one person allows another to live, so we are the kindness and we also depend on it from others.”

    Usually, we think in terms of self and other as if there were a gap or separation between us. We also assume, the Karmapa noted, that our self is in control and autonomous and that the same is true for the other. But that is not the case, he said, for we depend on each other: our happiness and pain depend on others and their happiness and pain depend on us. It is important to recognize this. We are a part of others and others are a part of ourselves, he stated. Once we understand that this is the way things are, we naturally develop the feeling of wanting to do something about the sufferings of living beings and to help them find happiness."
https://kagyuoffice.org/we-are-all-a-pa ... odhicitta/
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by muni » Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:28 am

Hi dear,

I lost compassion, no way to say then: I am a follower of the Buddha. Gratitude is a blessing medicine for recovering from critical grasping, which is a rotten disease of my mind.

https://www.padmasambhava.org/2019/06/h ... ifications

The great master Atisha’s seven points for developing and restrengthening our bodhchitta, love, kindness, and compassion for all beings without any exceptions:
(1) Mother Recognition
(2) Remembering the Kindness of Mothers
(3) Wanting to Repay Kindness
(4) Loving-kindness with Beautiful Appreciation
(5) Sincere Affection with Compassion
(6) Good Heart (Cordiality)
(7) Bodhichitta

May you be well. :anjali:
Which human beings are “fortunate and connected?” They are the ones who generate love, compassion, and devotion, as well as the commitment to remain steadfast on the path until all beings are liberated. Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches.

Examining the faults of others will not benefit anyone and only leads to more disturbing emotions, blocking our path to liberation. Penor Rinpoche

muni
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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by muni » Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:38 am

From the point of view of one who seeks enlightenment, it is far better to be a human being than to be born even in the heavens of the gods, where there is nectar to live on and all wishes are granted by the wish-fulfilling tree; where there is neither fatigue nor difficulty, neither sickness nor old age. It is as humans, possessed of the eight freedoms and the ten endowments, and not as gods, that every one of the thousand buddhas of this age has attained, or will attain, enlightenment. This human existence, moreover, is not to be achieved by force or mere chance; it is the result of positive actions. And because it is rare for beings to accomplish positive actions, a precious human existence is indeed difficult to obtain.
Nevertheless, we have now managed to be born into such a state; we have encountered the buddha-dharma, have entered the path and are now receiving teachings. But if we are unable to practise them, simply listening to the teachings will not in itself liberate us from samsara, and will be of no help to us when we are confronted by the hardships of birth, disease, old age and death. If we do not follow the doctor’s prescription when we are sick, then even if the doctor sits constantly by our side, the pain will not go away.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

:anjali:
Which human beings are “fortunate and connected?” They are the ones who generate love, compassion, and devotion, as well as the commitment to remain steadfast on the path until all beings are liberated. Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches.

Examining the faults of others will not benefit anyone and only leads to more disturbing emotions, blocking our path to liberation. Penor Rinpoche

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by Simon E. » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:56 am

TharpaChodron wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:43 pm
So...I was contemplating on how important the concept of "Gratitude" is with our Christian friends and wondering about how the concept of gratitude seems slightly missing from Buddhism. And then, I thought about the Four Reminders, especially the first one - this precious human birth. I think they are somewhat similar.

It dawned on me how important this first reminder is and why, perhaps, it is mentioned first in Ngondro practice. Without appreciation of our human life, no matter how short and/or painful our life may be, the other three reminders can seem a bit hard to swallow. Just my impression, but wondering if any others here have had such a profound "a ha" moment when they finally understood how vital gratitude for this precious human birth is.
This..
.I was posting a letter. The streets were wet after a sudden shower. The sun shone from an evening sky. Suddenly everyone
became glorious, bathed in light and quite clearly Buddhas to be. I wept with gratitude.
“The difference between us and Tara is that she knows she doesn’t exist”.

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by TharpaChodron » Sat Jun 22, 2019 11:12 pm

I'm sure you all know this story, but here is an article about Mingyur Rinpoche coming back from his wandering retreat. He said gratitude and appreciation were huge things he discovered.

https://www.lionsroar.com/in-exclusive- ... ring-yogi/

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by Yeti » Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:42 am

I think "Gratitude" is very much there in the likes of the 7 limb prayer (Rejoicing). Technically, they are not the same, but they are so close that rejoicing engenders gratitude IMHO.

I try and feel is as much as possible. I go over many things in my mind, many good fortunes in the Dharma, and feel Gratitude. It certainly creates an incredible environment for practice. I try to feel eternal gratitude to my gurus and teachers.

Brother David Steindl-Rast places paramount importance on it https://gratefulness.org/brother-david/ ... her-david/

Here's another interesting article on "Gratitude" https://www.happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

I can't imagine practising any of the yanas without a deep sense of Gratitude
"When a Dzogchen Yogi hears Shakyamuni Buddha turning the Wheel of the Dharma of the Four Noble Truths he hears Samathabhadra proclaiming the most profound Dzogpachenpo." - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by tkp67 » Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:33 pm

Gratitude seemed to be a dominant byproduct of my detachment to several external phenomenon

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by bhava » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:48 am

I think a true precious human life is such a life, where, after having recieved all necessary teachings and transmissions, one can fully devote oneself to one-pointed practice, without being too busy for the sake of making money, or without having to repay any severe karmic debt or similiar interfering factors, with a minimum of samsaric activities. Not appreciating or being grateful for such an opportunity can be a source of making wrong steps as well as loosing joy and inspiration for diligent practice. This is my experience...

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Re: Precious Human Birth

Post by Shankha » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:05 am

I am not really sure about the benefit with gratitude. I kind of lean more to that the feeling of responsibility fits better. Gratitude, for me, seams so pacifying. Even if I try to look at it from a beggars point of view, I can’t really see the benefit with gratitude. If I have nothing and someone gave me something, I would think that feeling responsible for making the most of that something would be more beneficial than feeling grateful for getting it. Or am I missing something?
Actually, the only situation when I can find a good reason to feel gratitude or be grateful is if someone took something from me.

1/37
At this time of obtaining this rare vessel of a precious human body with its qualities for liberating oneself and others from the ocean of samsara, day and night without distraction, listening, contemplating, meditating - this is the practice of the bodhisattva.

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