I need to strengthen my practice again

Nov 13, 2023

 

QUESTION

Dear Venerable,

 

I have attended your teachings since 2011 and came recently. In the past I was very apprehensive about asking you to be my teacher! I have had a change in my mind and heart. Life is too short to wait on what might help me understand my mind and how to stay motivated. 

 

Thank you.

Y

 

ANSWER

Happy to hear from you, dearest Y! And glad we connected at the teachings recently.

 

I’m delighted to help you on your path, so tell me about your practice, your studies; then we can discuss.

 

I send you much love!

Robina

 

QUESTION

Dear Venerable Robina,

 

What a wonderful surprise! 

 

Thank you for your precious time.

 

My practice began 2006. My only motivation at the time was to “quiet my mind.” I was brand new to sobriety and I experienced severe anxiety and depression. The first meditation I practiced was a death awareness meditation that I did daily for two years. This inward discipline and awareness helped tremendously! This is about the time I took the Buddhist lay vows.

 

From time to time until 2011 I helped out at a retreat center that offered a work/study program. I helped serve many students in full-time retreat with their lama, as well as studying and practicing myself. But since then my practice is not the same.

 

I can see the shift in my mind and it is not good. I would appreciate your guidance and mentorship. It is just in the past month I have started to sit still in meditation. During my time in that work/study program I attended many teachings and ceremonies. I can say the experience was beautiful, difficult, intense, and useful. I tried my best to be aware that it was an opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted. I feel as if I am losing all of that knowledge, awareness, and discipline. 

 

So, there it is – the history of my practice.

 

Please teach.

Please teach.

Please teach.

 

Y

 

ANSWER

Dear Y,

 

Thank you for explaining things.

 

My main question to you is what initiations, if any, have you received? And have you received the tantric vows?

 

And what practices specifically have your lamas given you to do?

 

Then we can discuss further.

 

Love,

Robina

 

QUESTION

Hi Venerable!

 

I have been given my lay vows and bodhisattva vows. I have not been given my tantric vows.

 

I look forward to hearing back from you.

 

Thank you,

Y

 

ANSWER

Thanks for explaining, Y.

 

You have a good background and you’ve created masses of virtuous karma by serving at the retreat center all those years. That’s really special.

 

A good daily practice really helps, even if it’s short. And maybe it might be nice to renew your refuge commitments, your lay vows, and your bodhisattva vows at some point. 

 

You have received many teachings from your lamas, so it’s good to do a guru yoga practice. In the morning you could do the Lama Tsong Khapa Guru Yoga: it’s quite short, although it can be made longer with extra mantras, but not necessary.

 

And at night it’d be excellent if you could do the four opponent powers purification practice. Lama Zopa Rinpoche says “we’re insane not to do it every day!”

 

It’s nice if you have an altar: it’s a nice focal point. Put the pictures of the Buddha there, and your lamas, those you feel close to. And why not also offer the water bowls: I’m sure you’re familiar with that.

 

I’m sending you here the PDF that I send people when they have taken refuge, the lay vows, and the bodhisattva vows. It’s good to remind yourself of these things, and especially to study your bodhisattva vows.

 

I’m also sending you here a PDF that’s a very simple overview of the entire path: good to remind yourself, get a feeling of how all the teachings fit together.

 

Love to you,

Robina

 

ANSWER

Venerable!!

 

Thank you so very much for the PDFs. The material itself has set my heart and mind on fire! Lol. Such a wonderful reminder. I have to say… for the past fifteen years I have had difficulty staying focused when I read, but I have no trouble keeping my attention to this material! I am very relieved.

 

I have put into place your suggestions of Lama Tsong Khapa’s guru yoga practice and a nightly discipline of the four opponent powers. I am working on my altar. I have a few more things to get into place.

 

Thank you again.

 

Lots of love,

Y

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