Begin at the beginning and end at the end refers to a very practical and straightforward practice that I recommend to everyone. It’s quite simple. At the beginning of the day, on arising, say to yourself (and you can train your mind to cue itself to the practice as soon as your feet first strike the floor on arising from bed): “Today I want to dedicate myself, to the best of my ability, to being generous and open hearted and benefiting others”. That’s the point of today. That’s why you are getting up and not staying in bed. That’s why you are going to work or doing whatever it is you are doing.If you are a daily meditator, you can then go on and practice meditation in the same spirit.
At the end of the day, before going to bed or getting into bed, perhaps sitting on the edge of the bed, take a few moments to review the day’s activities. Let your mind lightly slide over events that occurred, moments that will pop into your mind when bidden. And say to yourself, “May everything that I have done today, with whatever skill or good intentions, be dedicated to benefiting others. May my actions of today in some way be for the benefit of others.”
The biggest problem with the idea of doing spiritual practice in our contemporary world is that there doesn’t seem to be time for it. No time to meditate at home in the morning – must rush off to work. No time to meditate at home in the evening – too tired and, anyway, there’s family, meals, more work, e-mails, phone calls. Certainly no time to go to a retreat, no time to go someplace to meditate with others – my schedule won’t permit it, it is too expensive, too far away, and so on. This may all be true. But certainly there is no one who can’t afford or is too busy to have a thought in the morning and a thought in the evening. Cultivating the discipline to practice this slogan, even if its is the only one you can manage to practice, is sure to have a big impact on your life. It will change the way you feel about your days and how you view them. You have been going through your life with some underlying attitude. Probably you don’t even know what it is. But it conditions how you feel about your life. Practicing this slogan will ennoble and elevate that attitude. And that change of attitude will begin to affect everything in your life”.
Excerpt by Norman Fischer, Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings of the Practice of Lojong, Shambhala Publications Inc., 2013)Pages 131-131