By Geshe Rapten
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Extra info for The Preliminary Practices of Tibetan Buddhism
Ignorance, darkness and stupidity, which characterize children and remain even in adulthood, are the result of the period spent in the womb. Birth is the direct cause for sickness, old age and ultimately death. ) Old age. Nobody desires to grow old. When old age comes the faculties of body and mind become weak. The knowledge of youth which was sharp as a knife turns rusty or is forgotten. Old people were also young once and all will eventually become like them. The process of aging proceeds unnoticed but, were it to come suddenly, the suffering that it involves would be unbearable.
This prevents us from not only achieving our goals but also from making any headway since we are always preoccupied with ourselves. All beings from the lowest hells to the highest Bodhisattvas hindered from their attainment of Buddhahood by the imprints of afflictions, are fettered by the selfcherishing attitude, the root of all troubles. Two insects fighting or two nations at war clearly reveal the many disadvantages of this harmful attitude. Although it seems to help us temporarily it is actually the greatest obstacle to true Bodhisattva practice.
In the center is the Wish-fulfilling Tree adorned with the most precious objects imaginable; on the top of this tree is a large lotus seat surmounted by a golden throne; seated on it is the Root Guru in human form, surrounded by the line of gurus of the tradition. In front of him, also on a golden throne, stands Cakrasamvara and around him all the meditational deities. Buddha Sakyamuni attended by many Buddhas is seated on the right side of the Guru, while on his left is the Bodhisattva Avelokitesvara with a large retinue of Bodhisattvas, Arhats and Pratryekabuddhas.