The Foundations of the Spiritual Path - 1/6

English translation of an extract from the book Mahamoudra, éditions J C Lattès

 

Anyone who is interested in following a spiritual path must first examine what it is founded upon, the objective it proposes, and the methods used to get there. The aim of the Buddhist path is the complete liberation from all forms of suffering and the realisation of the mind's enlightened nature, a state of unchanging, permanent bliss.
Sooner or later we will be confronted with the inescapable reality of death. If we practice the teachings during our lifetime it is in order to be beyond all fear at the time of death. We will be able to approach this finality with confidence, completely certain of what to do and what to avoid and how the mind can use this particular opportunity to free itself from the cycle of death and rebirth. This should be the awareness underlying daily practice throughout our life.

 

It is absolutely essential to set out on the spiritual path with a correct motivation. Our practice is not animated by a desire to obtain better conditions of existence for this life. Our motivation must be free from all desires of gaining riches, power, fame, respect or any other personal, worldly achievements.

Such concerns are completely opposed to the practice of Dharma. All these goals linked to this life alone are of no long term benefit. Furthermore, the aim is not to obtain a higher rebirth after death, either as a human enjoying a life of ease, or in the illusory happiness of the divine realms. The pursuit of personal gain does not constitute a satisfactory motivation for a Bodhisattva. When we turn towards practice, letting go of all considerations for this life, our only desire should be the attainment of ultimate enlightenment, as this alone will give us the capacity to work for the benefit of all beings.

At the time of death, all of our attachments, everything we have accomplished and accumulated must be left behind. Our possessions, riches and property will be of no use whatsoever. The beings we love the most will be unable to accompany us. We will not even have the capacity to take our own body with us !

All types of happiness connected with this life are nothing but temporary enjoyments. As a long term goal they are insufficient. Our only objective, in following the Buddha's example, must be to obtain the permanent happiness of the state of enlightenment.

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