In traditional Tibetan meditation it is said that three things make all the difference between your meditation being merely a way of bringing temporary relaxation, peace and bliss, or of becoming a powerful cause for your enlightenment and the enlightenment of others. It is called, “Good in the Beginning. Good in the Middle, and Good at the End”.
Good in the Beginning: awareness springs from the essence that we are all sentient beings fundamentally have a ‘divine’ nature as our innermost essence, and that to realize it is to be free of ignorance and to put an end, finally to suffering. So each time you begin your practice of meditation, you are moved by this and inspire yourself with the motivation to dedicate your practice, and your life, to the enlightenment of all beings in the spirit of prayer.
“May all beings be happy, perfectly healthy and free from suffering”.
Good in the Middle: This refers to the frame of mind which you enter into the heart of your practice, inspired by the realization of the nature of mind, from which arises an attitude of non-grasping, free of any conceptual reference whatsoever, and an awareness that all things are inherently “empty”, illusory and dreamlike.
Good in the End: this refers to the way in which you bring your meditation to a close by dedicating all its merit, and praying with real fervor: May whatever merit that comes from this practice be toward the enlightenment of all beings; may it become a drop in the ocean of the activity of all the Divine for the liberation of all beings”. Merit is the positive power and benefit, the peace and happiness that radiate from your practice. You dedicate this merit for the long-term, ultimate benefit of beings, and for their enlightenment. Then, realizing the illusory and dreamlike nature of reality, you reflect on how, in the deepest sense, you are dedicating your practice, those to whom you are dedicating it, and even the very act of dedication are all inherently “empty” and illusory. This is said in the teaching to seal the meditation and ensure that none of its pure power can leak or seep away, and so ensure that none of the merit of your practice is ever wasted.
These three sacred principles – the skillful motivation, the attitude on non-grasping that secures your practice, and the dedication that seals it – are what make your meditation truly enlightening and powerful. They have been beautifully described by the great Tibetan master Longchenpa as “the heart, the eye and the life-force of true practice”.