As we read the suttas, we are always trying to see the truth of the teachings in our own lives. When we finish our practice, we can do a quick reflection to help solidify this intention.
Begin by making a quick summary in your head of the teaching you just read. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive. As you will see, it works best if it is brief and heartfelt. It can even be just one point that you found most helpful. In the text below, this summary will fill in for [X]. If you aren’t able to summarize, just use “this teaching of the Blessed One.”
- Because of not knowing [X] I have been reborn again and again in this long round of samsara, creating suffering for myself and countless other beings
- May my understanding of [X] grow. May I always keep this teaching of [X] in mind and live accordingly, using it to help me realize the Blessed One’s four noble truths in this very life.
- May all beings have the opportunity to learn about [X] and realize the four noble truths in this very life.
Of course you can use whatever language you feel comfortable with, but the main point is to make a quick recollection of what you just read and have a sincere aspiration that you will try to put the teachings into practice. Remember, the recollection does not need to be comprehensive. Don’t get hung up on making a perfect summary. That’s not what this is about. As different things come to mind you could even change what [X] is as you go through the recollection. Focus on what you understood and found meaningful.
If you don’t feel comfortable with the language, come up with something that works for you, keeping these basics in mind:
- Summarize the main points that you found valuable.
- Make the aspiration to understand and live by these teachings.
- Make the wish for liberation.
- Cultivate thoughts of good will for all beings.
If you understand the practice of sharing merit, you may also wish to share the merit you have made through reading and reflecting on the Dhamma with all beings or specific people like your teachers and spiritual friends.
Having done this reflection it will be easy to keep in mind the purpose of reading the suttas, namely, liberation from samsara. It will also make it easier to bring the teachings to mind throughout the day.
Do you have a habit you find helpful to close your reading of the suttas? Share your experience in the comments below.