The Bodhisattva Geshe Chekhawa’s main wish was to be reborn in hell so that he could help the beings suffering there. However, as he lay on his deathbed he perceived a vision of the Pure Land and realized that his wish would not be fulfilled. Instead of being reborn in hell he had no choice but to go to the Pure Land! This was because his compassion had purified his mind to such an extent that from the point of view of his own experience impure objects such as hell realms no longer existed – for him everything was pure. However, although Geshe Chekawa took rebirth in a Pure Land, he was able to help hell beings through his emanations.
We may find these stories difficult to believe, but this is because we do not understand the relationship between our mind and its objects. As Milarepa said, our mind and its objects are in truth the same nature, but due to ignorance we believe they are different natures. We feel that the world exists ‘out there’, independent of the mind that perceives it, but in reality objects are totally dependent on the minds that perceive them. This impure world that we presently experience exists only in relation to our impure mind. Once we have completely purified our mind through training in exchanging self with others, compassion, and so forth, this impure world will disappear and we shall perceive a new, pure world. Our sense that things exist separately from our mind, with their own fixed, inherent natures, comes from our ignorance. When we understand the true nature of things we shall see that our world is like a dream, in that everything exists as a mere appearance to mind. We will realize that we can change our world simply by changing our mind, and that, if we wish to be free from suffering, all we need to do is purify our mind. Having purified our own mind, we will then be in a position to fulfil our compassionate wish by showing others how to do the same.

Geshe Kesang Gyatso in How to Transform Your Life

MEDITATING ON DEATH USING NINE WAYS OF REASONING

This has three parts:

1 Using three ways of reasoning to gain conviction that death is certain
2 Using three ways of reasoning to gain conviction that the time of death is uncertain
3 Using three ways of reasoning to gain conviction that at the time of death and after death only our practice of Dharma is of benefit to us

The purpose of meditating on death using these nine ways of reasoning is not to establish that death is certain, that the time of death is uncertain, and that only spiritual practice is of benefit to us at the time of death and after, because these facts are obvious and do not require proof. However, despite the fact that we know these things we usually assume `I shall not die today.' If we ever have the thought, `I may die today', it quickly passes. Our habitual assumption is that our life will go on as usual, and we base all our daily actions on this assumption. Therefore we need to meditate on death to turn our superficial knowledge into a deep, inner conviction that transforms our awareness so that we habitually think `I may die today', and base all our daily actions on that reality. If we gain constant mindfulness of death we shall naturally become very interested in practising Dharma.
When we meditate using these nine ways of reasoning we are doing the analytical meditations that cause us to come to three firm resolutions:

I must practise Dharma.
I must practise Dharma now.
I must practise Dharma purely.

Geshe Kesang Gyatso in Joyful Path of Good Fortune

 

All of Geshe-la's books are available for purchase from Amitabha Centre and from tharpa.com/uk.
© All quotations from Geshe Kelsang's books are copyright of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and New Kadampa Tradition