Continually Practice Dharma

nagarjuna

The circumstances of death are many.
Those that sustain life are few;
Those very things, too, may cause death.
Therefore, continually practice Dharma.

[Nāgārjuna, from The Precious Garland]

Pabbatopama Sutta

Skulls

Just as a mighty mountain range,
Scraping the sky with rocky crags,
Might advance from four directions,
Crushing everything before it —

So also do old age and death
Roll over all living beings.
Nobles, brahmans and working folk,
Peasants, outcastes and garbage men —
None of them can escape [this end]:
Everybody surely gets crushed.

Nothing on earth can defeat them:
Not elephants, chariots or troops;
Nor the use of a magic spell;
Nor [can you buy safety] with gold.

So the person who’s firm and wise,
Seeing what is best for themselves,
Will place their faith in the Buddha,
The Dhamma and the Sangha too.

One who practices the teaching,
With body and speech and with mind —
That one is praised here in this world,
And after enjoys the pure realms.

SN 3.25

Practice, It’s Up to Us

Many Doors

 

“The essence of the 84,000 bundles of doctrine is just to tame this wild mind, not letting it go under the influence of the afflictions–desire, hatred, and ignorance. When the mind is no longer polluted by afflictions or their latent predispositions, then its taming is complete. The aged should engage in a method suited for old age; the young, in one suited for youth; the learned, in a method suited for the learned, and those not so learned, in one suited for their abilities.”

[…]

“At this time, when we have a physical life-support of a human such that we are capable of many techniques and thoughts, it is very important to engage in [Dharma] practice. It is our own choice to have no belief, faith, interest, or wish to practice. Buddha did not forcibly say, “You must practice”. The great commentators will not bring guns and swords. We must ascertain the need for [Dharma] with reasoning. Once we want happiness and do not want suffering, we should engage in the means to achieve happiness and eliminate suffering. Practice is based on reasoning, not force; it is up to oneself.”

[From Deity Yoga by H.H. the Dalai Lama]