Seven-Limb Practice/Prayer

from The Bodhicaryavatara by Shantideva
as taught by Aaron in The Awakened Heart

1. Bring into your heart and mind the image of a great spiritual teacher. It may be the image of Light itself, the Ever-Perfect Divine Presence. Open from your heart to your willingness to honor this energy.

2. Offer all of yourself to this energy. You can offer very specific aspects such as your body, your mind, and your energy as well as interconnected aspects such as sunlight and laughter. There needs to be the fervent wish: "Whatever I have that can be used by the forces of light for the alleviation of suffering, I freely offer it. Let me be a channel for light and love."

3. Think through the Four-part Empowerment.

a. Take refuge in that which most sustains you. It may be the three jewels, Jesus or Mary, Allah, God, or the Divine.

b. Open your heart to remember that there have been times when you've used your energy in ways that have harmed others; that you may have acted, spoken, or had thoughts that were unskillful and if clung to, led to harm. If the strong mindstate is present, it is helpful to reflect upon how it arose and come to better understand the ignorance or delusion that led to this strong arising. Generate compassionate understanding rather than criticism.

c. Resolve not to repeat the unskillful actions, words, or thoughts or resolve to not be ensnared again in the strong emotion in just the same way.

d. Use an antidote or purification practice specific to this mindstate and use it mindfully and skillfully.

4. Move out of yourself to see that there are other beings who have done harm but there are also others who have done good. With mudita (sympathetic joy), look at those who meet difficulty not with fear, greed, or jealousy – but with an open heart.

5. Offer thanks that there are beings capable of this – those who act as teachers of love and compassion – and ask that they remain available to you.

6. From deep within your heart, ask to be taught how to live this way. There is a sense of surrender in this step.

7. Dedicate the merit for any good that comes of this practice to the benefit of all beings.