These verses are designed to be done at the start of the day, preferably before your morning meditation. They set up your motivation: to see the whole day as an opportunity to move towards freedom and a more fulfilling life, and to be of benefit to others as well as yourself. There are three sections:
1. The Four Reminders encapsulate 4 fundamental reflections: 1) Life can be a real opportunity; 2) that opportunity is a limited offer, as we won’t live forever; 3) our happiness fundamentally depends on how we use our minds, and the kind of karma that we produce as a result; 4) however hard we try, we shall never make ourselves truly happy and secure as long as our minds are functioning in a way that creates a sense of ‘me’ at the centre of everything, with everyone and everything else seen as separate and at the service of our ‘ego project’.
2. Through these reflections we see that it is only through opening and orienting ourselves towards Enlightenment, and acting in ways that are influenced by it, that we shall find true security. So we take the Refuges and Precepts. (I’m not going to list them here; they’re fundamental to all Buddhist practice, and you can easily find versions of them if you don’t know them.)
3. Lastly, there are the Four Immeasurables (less commonly referred to in the Pali Canon as the 4 Brahma Viharas, or ‘divine abodes’). These bring out the fact that we aren’t aiming to practise for ourselves alone. Dharma practice moves us more and more from isolation to a sense of solidarity with all life, from ‘me’ to ‘us’. So these 4 heartfelt wishes reflect the 4 positive emotions of loving-kindness, compassion, joy in others’ happiness, and equanimity.
These verses were originally produced by my friend Viveka in San Francisco. Vijayamala and I have just tinkered around with them a bit, so they fitted what works best for us.
Click to download the Morning Verses.