Of appreciation for a perfect guru,
The tree of spiritual power is not born.
With undivided mind entrust yourself.
Human life is rare and precious,
Yet if not inspired by thoughts of death,
One wastes it on materialism:
Be ready to die at any moment.
All living beings have been our mothers,
Three circles of suffering always binding them.
Ignoble it would be not to repay them,
Not to strive to attain enlightenment.
The colophon (inscription) for this poem reads, "Written at the request of Ritropa Samdrub, an Amdo monk from Dechen Monastery, who begged for a short teaching..." The seventh Dalai Lama advises him to establish three central pillars in his spiritual practice: (1) a disciplined spiritual connection with his teacher; (2) awareness of the preciousness of life, and the uncertainty of the time of death: and (3) the mind of love and compassion for all living beings, coupled with the aspiration to enlightenment as the best means of fulfilling that love and compassion.
--from Meditations to Transform the Mind, by the Seventh Dalai Lama, translated, edited and introduced by Glenn Mullin