I’ve reached the final set of lectures on the Accumulation Stage of Buddhist Practice. It has taken 1 1/2 years of Monday morning lectures to get to this point. It is by far the biggest part of the LAM RIM or Stages of the Path teachings.
This is because it is the most basic. Just like a good foundation is needed for a house, this is very important teaching for the rest of our practice. People often want to run to the most esoteric teachings. We all want instant Enlightenment that we get through the drive through window on the way to work. But without this basic practice, we may get a glimpse of Spiritual Development, but we’ll never be able to sustain it.
The beginning of the Accumulation Stage develops our intention to practice and eliminate suffering. Through the Accumulation Stage, we end up with confidence in the truth behind the Buddha’s 4 Noble Truths and Confidence in our own Buddhahood. We can begin to develop some Enthusiasm for practice, because we learn about the benefits.
Finally, we develop Alertness. We learn about mindfulness and we learn to practice continual mindfulness of our Bodies and Forms, of our Feelings, our Minds, and our Relationship to Phenomena. The more solidly we have developed this mindfulness, the more quickly the other stages of Buddhist development will be achieve. Haphazard mindfulness leads to haphazard Viewpoints, haphazard Morality, haphazard Compassion, and haphazard Wisdom.
We also learn to develop mindfulness of Impermanence, mindfulness of Suffering, and mindfulness of Interdependence. These mindfulness help increase our enthusiasm for the work we need to do to get to the final result and they are actually components of our Buddhamind. Part of the Buddhamind is the continual perception of Impermanence, the potential for Suffering and the continual perception of the dependent arising of all things. If we start developing it thoroughly from the start, our Buddhahood will be close at hand and not as far off as we would tend to believe.