I began the meditation by thinking about how other people appear to me. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they also come with a very tangible sense of being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. If they are good, then I like them. If they are bad then I don’t like them. This quality seems to be very real and associated with them, rather than coming from any other source.
But I know that people can change – sometimes people have entered my life and I have taken an instant dislike to them, only to find later that they have become good friends to me. If my initial assessment was correct, and this dislike was due to a definite quality the person has, then how can it change later? And if we say, ‘well, they changed, so I changed my view of them’, how do we decide which view is the right one?
It might be reasonable to propose that we alter our view of others, based on how they treat us that day. But what does this mean for us and our experience? When we dislike someone, we are filled with uncomfortable feelings. We dread seeing them. We want to be away from them when we are with them. It ruins our peace of mind. But letting our mind be dictated to by others, we are completely at their mercy. Our mind will change from happy to unhappy constantly, because it is reacting to external appearances, which are also constantly changing.
A better approach will be to view people as equal. How? They are all equal in the sense that how they appear to us is simply a projection of our own mind. This projection is wrong and wavering. Instead of relying on these appearances, we should recognise every person’s fundamental nature – they are all suffering beings trapped in the prison of samsara.
I went over the logic of these points for a while before letting the conclusion arise, that I should regard everyone with a warm and friendly feeling regardless of how they appear. I rested on this warm and friendly feeing for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop the realisation of equanimity, and achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all.
Practice in the meditation break.
I am at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre today. I will be surrounded by happy smiling people who are so kind. I could not wish for an easier place to practice equanimity!