Turning the Mind Toward the Dharma
THE BUDDHA TAUGHT THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS that have to do with understanding that what we take to be real manifests as suffering, but that there is a path that we can follow that leads from this suffering to the experience of ultimate happiness.
Within the Tibetan tradition, four thoughts on reality help us to internalize our understanding of the Four Noble Truths. These four thoughts that turn the mind to Dharma also help us to overcome our habitual inertia, and provide the impetus and motivation for our Buddhist practice. The four thoughts that turn the mind to Dharma are taken as a profound contemplation leading us to a direct confrontation with our own personal reality: the preciousness of our human birth and the opportunity that it affords us to practice, the transitoriness of all phenomena including the very temporary and short-lived nature of our opportunity to practice, the importance of taking karma into account and recognizing that what we do with this opportunity does make an enormous difference; and the unsatisfactoriness of samsara and the appreciation that there is really no good or useful alternative to applying ourself to the study and practice of the Dharma.
Teachings on turning the mind to Dharma have been given by many distinguished Kagyu masters. Excerpts from some of these teachings follow.