Practicing the BLIA Verses
Now that we know what the BLIA verses mean, we must focus on how to practice them.
Buddhism is a religion that places equal emphasis on practice and understanding. First we understand, then we are able to practice effec- tively. Through understanding, our practice is improved. Through practice, our understanding grows.
The verses are a standard
The BLIA verses are a perfect standard on which all of us can base our behavior and understanding.
The fundamental concepts and energies of all the schools of Buddhism are reflected in the BLIA verses.
It does not matter whether you are from the north or the south, whether you practice Chan Buddhism or Pure Land Buddhism. It does not matter if your focus is on yourself or on helping others, whether you are a monastic or a householder. It does not matter whether you find Buddhism difficult or easy, the BLIA verses contain the essence of all Buddhism. No matter what kind of character you may have, these verses can provide you with a place to stand and come to terms with life.
The BLIA verses contain the four immeasurable mind:
immeasurable loving-kindness, immeasurable joy, immeasurable compassion, and immeasurable equanimity.
They also contain the six perfections: giving, morality, patience, diligence, meditative concentration, and wisdom. These are the six major virtues of a Mahayana bodhisattva.
The BLIA verses blend the highest aspects of Buddhism with life’s most important virtues. They can be recalled at any time and in any place to help us in our practice and understanding.
The four verses embody the highest virtues
When we practice loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity, we open our hearts and prepare ourselves for further advancement. When we practice appreciation for our blessings and friendship toward everyone, we develop into the fullness of our inherent Buddha natures. When we practice meditative concentration and contemplation of Amitabha Buddha’s name, and when we keep the precepts, we begin to experience in our very lives and bodies the awesome wisdom of the Dharmakaya. When we truly feel humility and gratitude toward all things, then we will have the proper foundation on which to bring all of our vows to their ultimate fulfillment.
If all of us in the BLIA can devote ourselves to the truths contained in these verses, then we will all be able to treat others with a joyful compassion. We will all be able to share our blessings with others, admit our own mistakes, transfer our merits to others, and behave with tolerance, sincerity and forgiveness in all situations. By doing this, we will become good examples for others to follow, and our lives will be a benefit to society as they succeed in bringing joy to those who are around us.
The four verses are in accord with the Dharma
The four verses of the BLIA can teach us to transform our negative emotions and tendencies into positive ones. They can teach us to transform our greed, anger, ignorance, selfishness and wrong ideas into their positive opposites.
As our characters thus change, we will become more disciplined in our lives, and we will be better able to get along with people and better able to treat them with the compassion and generosity they deserve. As we do this, our lives will improve and flow more smoothly. We will walk on the middle path and find that day by day all our thoughts have come to accord more and more with the Dharma.
The four verses are universal
The four verses are intended to be useful throughout the day.
They can help us whether we are dealing with people, managing business affairs, studying, practicing Buddhism or preaching the Dharma.
If we speak them before taking our meals, they will remind us of the compassion and vows of a true bodhisattva. If we speak them on special occasions, then all in attendance will be able to share their special meaning. If we use them when we are preaching the Dharma, they can help us convey the profound meaning of Buddhism in a way that is easier to understand and remember.
Regular use of the BLIA verses will help all of us improve our practice of Buddhism. They will help increase our faith as we seek to make this world a more compassionate place in which to live. I hope all BLIA members will take the BLIA verses to heart and make them an integral part of their lives.