The Four Reminders

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“The Four Reminders” is a teaching that is considered foundational in the Buddha-Dharma. Point One of the Seven Points of the LoJong Slogans is, “The preliminaries, which are the basis for dharma practice.” The first of the 59 slogans is, “First, train in the preliminaries.” The “preliminary practice” of the Mahayana is to contemplate the four themes “that turn the mind away from samsara and inspire us to turn our attention towards liberation. This teaching is a decisive foundation to eventually experience and realize Bodhicitta.”

Karma Lodrö writes, “First, we contemplate the unique occasion of having attained a precious human birth and determine to use our life meaningfully. Then we contemplate impermanence and death. As long as we have a precious human life, we shouldn’t waste it, because the time of death is uncertain and impermanence is a fact. The third practice that turns one’s mind to the Dharma is contemplating how to really make use of the fortunate opportunity of having attained a precious human life more fully by accumulating positive karma. One understands that, due to the infallible law of cause and effect, unwholesome and unskillful activities of body, speech, and mind lead to painful results. Fourthly, one contemplates the meaningless propositions of samsara. These four contemplations inspire us to turn our attention towards liberation.”

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