The purpose of this meditation is to develop a strong feeling of being equally concerned for the freedom and happiness of others just as much as our concern for our own freedom and happiness. We then meditate on this feeling in the light of actions and their effects.
He says that there are three main points to contemplate:
- that all living beings have been exceptionally kind to us
- that like us, all living beings are experiencing suffering, and
- that compared to the suffering of all living beings, our own suffering is insignificant.
I slowly contemplated these points. It is true that all living beings have been kind to me – when they were my mother they held me in their arms and looked at me as if I were a precious jewel. They dedicated themselves to my welfare.
When I look at living beings now, I can see that they are all searching – searching for happiness and trying to avoid suffering. They seek it, but it is a fruitless search because they are looking in the wrong place.
Although I have sufferings, they are completely insignificant compared to the sufferings of other living beings. When I read in the papers about what is happening in Syria at this moment, it makes anything I am experiencing seem utterly trivial.
I thought about these points again and again, and after a while I felt a feeling of becoming more interested in alleviating the sufferings of others. My own problems seemed very minor, and my kind mothers experience such suffering. I felt a wish to help them – that their happiness and freedom were my responsibility and that I should work just as much for their freedom as for my own. I dwelt on this feeling and let my mind mix with it.
After some time I decided to think about what this means in the light of actions and their effects. It was immediately clear to me that it is completely helpful to develop this attitude of cherishing myself and others equally. It reduces my suffering and it reduces the suffering of others. It is the path to enlightenment and the ultimate freedom of myself and others. It is and example of virtuous actions leading to virtuous effects. I drew confidence from this thought and returned to a short contemplation of the three points before re-establishing the feeling of cherishing myself and others equally.
May all living beings equalise their cherishing wishes and quickly become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to watch out for self-cherishing thoughts, and when they arise remember the countless beings experiencing similar but more intense suffering, and try to maintain a feeling of being equally concerned for everyone’s freedom and happiness.