Beliefnet
Reprinted from "Change of Heart: The Bodhisattva Peace Training of Chagdud Tulku, with permission of Padma Publishing.

When you wake up each morning, instead of rising mindlessly, sit for a few moments and contemplate your good fortune: "How wonderful-I've lived through the night!" Many people go to bed healthy and never wake up. Death is very simple. We breathe out and don't breathe in again.

Think to yourself, "I don't know if I have one more day or many. But I will use the time I have well. I'll work for the happiness of others in any way I can, and if I'm not able to help, at least I'll strive not to harm any being-physically, verbally, or mentally." With this resolution, focus on the direction you want the day to take. Your ability to benefit others will increase in proportion to the scope of your intention. Then invoke the blessings of your object of faith, praying that whatever you do will benefit all beings and lead you to realize your true nature.

Throughout the day, apply the four immeasurable qualities [love, compassion, joy, equanimity] and the four thoughts [birth, impermanence, suffering, karma] to all of your activities. Every door you open can be the heart's door to greater compassion. Every meal you purely offer can nourish all beings with loving kindness. Everything you purchase can bring to mind the transitory nature of all things.

Never overlook an opportunity to create virtue. The merit of helping others, dedicated to all beings, is boundless and becomes a powerful force for positive change.

Don't burden others with your expectations. Understanding their limitations can inspire compassion instead of disappointment, ensuring beneficial and workable relationships. Remember that you have only a short time together. Be grateful for each day you share.

Try to resist responding negatively to difficult situations. Every moment of miserliness, hatred, jealousy, or pride drives you more deeply into suffering. These poisons only further obscure the crystal, your inherent perfection. Instead, cultivate acceptance and contentment.

When you feel upset or depressed, focusing on the suffering of others is genuinely helpful. Regardless of how overwhelming your circumstances may seem, those of countless others are much worse. Putting yourself in their shoes brings perspective to your own situation.

Continually contemplate impermanence. Whatever you desire, dislike, think, or feel is impermanent. Words of praise or blame are impermanent. They all come and go. With this understanding, you won't be so upset by the dramas of daily life.

Outwardly you can continue to make plans, but inwardly cultivate nonattachment. When death comes, it won't do any good to cling to plans, no matter how well-intentioned they may be. When death takes your last breath, you need to really know that everything you are leaving is impermanent-a dream-and let go.

Continue to practice contemplation and relaxation. You don't have to sit on a special cushion, in a special room, with special incense. Do it wherever you are: in line at the convenience store, driving to work, taking a shower, doing dishes. The more you practice, the more quickly your faults will diminish and your positive qualities will increase. Revealing mind's perfection is simply a matter of repetition-bringing your awareness back to one or another of these meditations again and again.

When you go to bed at night, review the day. Reflect on the virtue and negativity you created. Really check. Be honest. If you caused harm, don't become discouraged, but make a commitment to change. Using the four powers of purification, imagine that you are cleansed of all sickness, negativity, obscurations, and karmic debts, until not even the residue of your harmful actions remains. Then allow your mind to settle into the openness and compassion that are the blessings of your object of faith.

Dedicate all the virtue you've ever accumulated to the temporary and ultimate happiness of all beings without exception. Then go to sleep.

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