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You can also read and study the following chapters from the book Buddhism in a Nutshell: Essentials for Practice and Study

• What is Buddhist Refuge? (pages 37‐50)
   • Taking Refuge
   • What Makes a Buddhist?
   • Is it Buddhist? 
• The Fundamentals of Karma (pages 51‐60)
   • What is Karma?
   • Understanding Karma
• The Importance of a Qualified Teacher (pages 129‐138)
   • Relying on a Qualified Teacher
   • The Need for a Qualified Teacher
• What is the Purpose of Life? (pages 139‐148)
   • Fulfilling Life’s Purpose
   • Why Appreciating Our Human Life is so Essential
• Death and Impermanence (pages 149‐158)
   • Facing the Inevitable 
   • The Importance of Meditating on Impermanence & Death


There are five meditations from the book Buddhism in a Nutshell: Essentials for Practice and Study for this session:

• Refuge (page 49
   • Karma (page 59)
   • The Teacher (page 137)
   • Precious Human Rebirth (page 147)
   • Impermanence and Death (page 158)

After you have calmed your mind and generated an altruistic motivation, do the actual meditation for at least fifteen minutes. Conclude the meditation with a dedication.


You can contemplate as many of the following points for reflection as you like at any one time, either in the form of an analytical meditation while sitting on your meditation seat or by writing out your thoughts while sitting at a table. It would be good to begin each session of reflection by generating an altruistic motivation, and to conclude the session by dedicating the positive energy you have created.

The points for reflection for this session are:

  1. What would you say is your usual motivation or, in other words, what are you looking for in life?
  2. Do you ever make choices based of how they will affect you after you die? Does it make sense to you to make plans for a good rebirth?
  3. Have you found anything that gives you lasting satisfaction? Why do you think we get tired of things after using or enjoying them for some time?
  4. How do you feel about the need for a guru in relation to progressing on your spiritual path?
  5. Can you think of times when you have taken your life for granted? What kind of fortunes have you had in your life? What kind of misfortunes have you had? In general, how do you see your opportunities for spiritual practice?
  6. How does thinking about death make you feel? Would it be helpful to you to think more about death? If so, in what way?
  7. What are some examples of people and things you have taken refuge in when you have had problems in your life? How do you relate taking refuge to your spiritual life?
  8. What does “karma” mean to you? How would understanding and believing in karma affect your behavior in daily life?
  9. What does leading an ethical life mean to you?