Daily Dharma Practice


Practicing Dharma in Daily Life

from Pearl of Wisdom compiled by Ven. Thubten Chodron

When Zopa Rinpoche stayed in Singapore in May 1988, he stayed at the home of a happy and very devoted family. Before leaving, Rinpoche, with his great compassion dictated the following to me to compile for the Lim family, especially the mother, to practice. He suggested it also be included in this book, so that others could learn how to transform daily life activities into the path to enlightenment.

Waking Up

In the morning when you wake up, visualize the Buddha on the crown of your head and think, "How fortunate I am that so far I have not died. Again today I have the opportunity to practice the Dharma. I again have the opportunity to take the essence of this human rebirth which has so many freedoms and richnesses. The great essence to be taken from this opportunity is to practice bodhicitta, the mind that is dedicated to attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, by renouncing myself and cherishing others. Cherishing only myself is the greatest obstacle to be happy myself and it is especially the greatest hindrance to bringing about happiness of all sentient beings. So, from now on, I will never allow myself to be under control of the self-cherishing thought. 

"Also, cherishing others is the best means to bring all success for my own happiness and especially to successfully bring about the happiness that all sentient beings desire. Therefore, from now on, I will never separate from the precious bodhicitta, the mind cherishing other sentient beings, for even one moment. With the bodhicitta, and the mind that cherishes others, I will live my life." Then make a sincere request to the Buddha, "Whether my life is happy or painful, may whatever actions I do with my body, speech and mind always become only the cause to lead quickly the pitiful mother sentient beings throughout infinite space to enlightenment." 

Guru Shakyamuni is extremely pleased with your request. He melts into light, which flows down through your crown to your heart, blessing, inspiring and transforming your mind. Think, "I have received all of the Buddha's qualities." Then imagine a small Buddha made of light appears at your heart. Throughout the day, think of the Buddha constantly. In this way, you will become more mindful of what you do, say and think, as you will be aware of Buddha witnessing it. 

Read and contemplate the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation:

  1. With the thought of attaining enlightenment
    For the welfare of beings,
    Who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
    I will constantly practice holding them dear. 
  2. Whenever I am with others,
    I will practice seeing myself as the lowest of all
    And from the very depth of my heart,
    I will respectfully hold others as supreme.
  3. In all actions, I will examine my mind
    And the moment a disturbing attitude arises,
    Endangering myself and others,
    I will firmly confront and avert it.
  4. Whenever I meet a person of bad nature
    Who is overwhelmed by negative energy and intense suffering,
    I will hold such a rare one dear,
    As if I had found a precious treasure.
  5. When others, out of jealousy,
    Mistreat me with abuse, slander and so on,
    I will practice accepting defeat
    And offering the victory to them.
  6. When someone I have benefitted
    And in whom I have placed great trust
    Hurts me very badly,
    I will practice seeing that person as my supreme teacher.
  7. In short, I will offer directly and indirectly
    Every benefit and happiness to all beings, my mothers.
    I will practice in secret taking upon myself
    All their harmful actions and sufferings.
  8. Without these practices being defiled by the stains of the eight worldly concerns,
    By perceiving all phenomena as illusory,
    I will practice without grasping to release all beings
    From the bondage of the disturbing, unsubdued mind and karma.
By remembering Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, do your daily life actions as follow:

Eating and Drinking

Before you eat or drink, think, "I am going to make this food (drink) offering to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, who is the embodiment of all the Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha, in order to achieve enlightenment for the sake of all mother sentient beings." Think the food is very pure and sweet nectar that gives great bliss. Its taste is delicious, like what a Buddha experiences; that is, it is completely beyond the usual ordinary appearance of food. Offer the food with the following prayers and imagine the Buddha at your heart experiences bliss as you eat. Recite "OM AH HUM" three times to consecrate the food and then offer it with any of the following verses:

    Guru is Buddha, Guru is Dharma, Guru is Sangha, also.
    Guru is the source of all (goodness and happiness).
    To all the Gurus, I make this offering. 
    You, whose body was formed by a million perfect virtues,
    Whose speech fulfils the hopes of all beings,
    Whose mind perceives all that is to be known,
    To the prince of the Shakyas I make this offering.
    The supreme teacher, the precious Buddha,
    The supreme refuge, the holy precious Dharma,
    The supreme guide, the precious Sangha,
    To all of the objects of refuge, I make this offering.
As you eat, imagine that Guru Shakyamuni at your heart experiences bliss from the nectar that you have offered to him. He radiates light which fills your entire body.

Dedicate the positive potential (merit) created by offering the food:

    May we and those around us, in all future lives,
    Never be separated from the Three Jewels,
    Continuously make offerings to the Three Jewels,
    And receive the inspiration of the Three Jewels.
When you dedicate, especially remember the sentient beings who created negative karma by harming others and who suffered and died in the process of growing and preparing the food.

Enjoying Sense Objects

Whatever sense objects you enjoy during the day – clothes, music, beautiful scenery and so forth – think that you are offering them to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha who is at your heart. In this way, you continuously make offerings to the Buddha, thus creating a great store of positive potential. Also, you will become less attached to sense pleasures and will begin to enjoy them with a peaceful mind.

Making Offerings on the Altar

Think, "I am going to make these offerings in order to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all pitiful mother sentient beings who have been kind to me since beginningless rebirths." Immediately consecrate whatever you offer by saying, "OM AH HUM." When you look at the pictures and statues of the Buddhas and holy beings on your altar, think that they are all the Guru and the Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha of the ten directions. Offer to them with this recognition, and imagine that they generate great bliss by receiving your offerings. Think that you are offering to the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, arhats and sanghas of the ten directions. Offer to the statues of the Buddhas and deities (which represent the Buddha's holy body), to all the scriptures (which represent the Buddha's holy speech), and to all the stupas (which represent the Buddha's holy mind) that exist in all ten directions. 

This includes making offerings to all holy objects in Tibet, in India and in each person's home where there is a holy object. This is the most skillful way to accumulate merit without needing to take even one step or spend even one dollar to travel to those places. By thinking that all the statues, Buddhas, bodhisattvas and so forth are manifestations of the guru, you accumulate the highest merit.

After offering, think, "Whatever happiness and virtue I have accumulated, may all sentient beings receive it, and whatever suffering beings have, may it ripen upon me." Then dedicate the positive potential.


When you go to work, think, "I must achieve enlightenment in order to lead each and every sentient being to enlightenment. Therefore, I am going to do service for sentient beings by going to work." If you are working in order to provide for your family, it is service to sentient beings. If you do not have to provide for your family, you nevertheless need the necessary material conditions in order to practice the Dharma so that you may attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. While you are at work, remember the kindness of the other sentient beings who gave you the job and who make it possible for you to earn a living. Thinking in this way helps to avoid generating negative emotions like anger at work.


Think, "I am going to bathe by transforming this action into the cause to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings." By thinking in a new way, you can make your shower or bath a purification practice. One way to think is that the water is very blissful and you are offering it to the Buddha at your heart. 

Another way is to visualize whichever manifestation of the Buddha you feel a strong connection with(for example, Chenresig or Tara) above your head and think that the bathing water is flowing from his or her hand. The water is the nature of wisdom and it is making your mind clear so you can practice the path for the benefit of sentient beings. While you are washing, think that all negative karmas, sicknesses and interfering forces are cleansed by the wisdom realizing emptiness and that you receive all the realizations and the qualities of the Buddha. 


At the end of the day it is important to purify the negative actions created during the day. The most powerful method to do this is by means of the four opponent powers:
  1. Having regret for the negative actions you have done.
  2. Taking refuge and generating bodhicitta.
  3. Doing remedial actions, i.e. a purification practice.
  4. Determining not to do the action again in the future.
By doing this, it stops the karma from multiplying each day, each week, each month. It also purifies the negative karma accumulated since beginningless time. By thus cleansing your obstacles, you have the opportunity to become enlightened. Before going to bed, think, "I take refuge until I am enlightened in the Buddhas, the Dharma and the Sangha. By the positive potential I create by practicing generosity and the other far-reaching attitudes, may I attain Buddhahood in order to benefit all sentient beings."

Visualize Guru Vajrasattva on your crown. Light and nectar flow down from his heart into you and purify all negative karmas and obscurations of yourself and others. While visualizing in this way, recite Vajrasattva's mantra at least twenty-eight times:

    om vajrasattva hum
Then Vajrasattva says to you, "All your negative karmas and obscurations are completely purified. Be happy about this." Vajrasattva absorbs into your heart and blesses your mind. 

Dedicate the positive potential:

    "May the precious bodhi mind
    Not yet born arise and grow.
    May that born have no decline,
    But increase forever more. 
    "In all my lives with the victorious one, Lama Tsong Khapa, acting in person as the mahayana guru, may I never turn aside for even an instant from the excellent path praised by the victorious ones. 
    "Due to the positive potentials accumulated by myself and others in the past, present and future, may anyone who merely sees, hears, remembers, touches or talks to me be freed in that very instant from all sufferings and abide in happiness forever."
When you go to bed, think, "I am going to practice sleeping yoga in order to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings." Lie down in the lion position, which is how the Buddha lay when he passed away: lie on your right side, with your right hand under your cheek. Your left hand is on your left thigh and your legs are extended. Remember the kindness and sufferings of sentient beings and go to sleep feeling loving-kindness towards them. Visualize Guru Shakyamuni Buddha on your pillow and put your head in his lap. Very gentle light flows from the Buddha into you and by remembering the Buddha's enlightened qualities with devotion, fall asleep.
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