You don’t have to be a Buddhist to learn Buddhist meditation and find peace, positivity and joy in your life, whatever circumstances you find yourself in. There is some background to Buddhism, meditation, and my teacher below.
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Meditation means familiarizing ourself with positive and happy ways of thinking and overcoming negative habits of mind that cause unhappiness. It helps us a lot, and it helps us to help others. Kadampa Life is mainly about applying Buddhist meditation to daily life and using what happens in daily life to make progress on our spiritual journey.
Modern Buddhism is open to everybody who wants to learn it, it doesn’t belong to Buddhists. It resonates with a lot of people these days because it is profound common sense. This blog is not set up to proselytize, evangelize, or convert anyone to Buddhism, just in case you were wondering. I’m using it to share some experience of putting these teachings into practice over the past three decades. If you find something on here that’s helpful or practical for you, that’s great, please use it. If not, it doesn’t matter. Different strokes for different folks.
A bit of background
“Buddhism is the practice of Buddha’s teachings, also called Dharma, which means ‘protection’.” ~ Modern Buddhism, page 3 (click on the link for a free eBook!!)
Meditation — or familiarizing ourself with positivity — is at the heart of Buddhism. By practicing Buddhist meditation we are protected from the suffering caused by our so-called ‘delusions’ – unpeaceful, uncontrolled states of mind such as anger, attachment and ignorance that give rise to nothing but suffering. We also learn how to develop and maintain our peaceful, positive states of mind such as patience, love and wisdom, and in this way fulfill our innate potential for happiness and freedom, including the ability to help others. Anyone with a mind can do this, regardless of their background, culture or even belief system.
“In general, all Buddha’s teachings, the Dharma, are very precious, but Kadam Dharma or Lamrim is a very special Buddhadharma that is suitable for everyone without exception…. This is because Kadam Dharma accords with people’s daily experience; it cannot be separated from daily life.” ~ Modern Buddhism, p. 22-3
Kadampa Buddhism is practical, applied Buddhism. It is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (AD 982-1054), practiced fully and passed down the generations through great spiritual masters, including Je Tsongkhapa (AD 1357-1419), to the present day.
In the word ‘Kadampa’, ‘Ka’ refers to Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings, and ‘dam’ to Atisha’s Lamrim (or stages of the path to enlightenment) instructions. So a Kadampa is anyone who regards Buddha’s teachings as personal instructions and puts them into practice by following the instructions of Lamrim. This way we can learn to transform all our daily activities and experiences – relationships, work, good times, bad times etc — into the path to mental freedom and enlightenment.
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
You can find out more about this modern-day Buddhist master and founder of the New Kadampa Tradition in any number of places, including in this article I wrote about him on his 80th birthday. I could speak volumes about my teacher, but all I’ll say for now is that I think he is a spiritual genius! I’ve read lots of Buddhist books but, to me, his books still take my breath away. Although I have read each one many times, I honestly still find new clarity and vision each time I pick one up and read even a sentence.
His 22 books — all commentaries one way or another to Je Tsongkhapa’s works — range from detailed, authoritative texts on every aspect of Buddhist meditation and philosophy to newer books like Transform Your Life and Modern Buddhism that manage to make Buddhism simple, practical and do-able, while at the same time blowing my mind! Now, thanks to this, anyone who wants to can practice Kadampa Buddhist meditation and derive real benefit — whomever and wherever they are.
Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions.