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The purpose of this meditation is to develop a wonderful feeling of having warm and friendly feelings towards all living beings without exception.
I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then started by imagining three groups of people in front of me. In the centre were people for whom I have no strong feelings – people I see at work, and people I see in shops. To their left are people for whom I have attachment – my family and friends. I usually feel overexcited and un-natural around them because of my attachment to them. To the right are people who are causing me problems at the moment – people for whom I feel dislike.
I started by thinking about my friends and family. If I look with wisdom, I can see that in the past, and in past lives, these people have not only caused me problems – they have been my bitter enemies. They are not the exclusively positive entities I currently perceive. I felt my overexcitement lessen, and I made the determination: From now on I will try to remain simply warm and friendly to these people.
After a while I focused on my enemies. Despite their current manifestation, if I look with wisdom I can see that in the past these people have been very kind to me, and even in their actions now, they are helping me develop patience and other good qualities. Therefore if I look with wisdom I can see that they are not exclusively evil, but are much more balanced overall. I made the determination: From now on I will not focus exclusively on their perceived negative qualities, but develop a warm and friendly feeling towards them.
I then considered the middle group of people. I have a naturally balanced and harmonious relationship with these people, and I made the determination that as I can achieve a harmonious and balanced view with these people, so too can I do the same with friends and enemies.
Finally I developed the thought – even though people appear as friends and enemies, and stimulate delusions in my mind based on these current appearances, if I check, I can see that to respond appropriately to them in their entirety, the only sensible option is to treat them with warmth and friendliness.
I then focused on the thought ‘I love you anyway’, thinking that I love living beings regardless of their current appearance, and regardless of the harm they have done me in the past. This is a valid position because to love people on the basis of their kindness is to respond to their truth with wisdom.
I took this determination ‘I love you anyway’ as my object of meditation, and felt an overwhelming feeling of affectionate love for all living beings arise in my heart. When this feeling became strong, I focused on it for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings find equanimity in their hearts, and quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will think ‘I love you anyway’ whenever I see or think of someone.
The purpose of this meditation is to think deeply about the benefits of cherishing others, and to reach a firm conclusion that this is what we need to do with our lives. We then think about what this means in terms of Bodhichitta.
I began by thinking about how the thin pleasures of samsara are ultimately meaningless. There is no real happiness or satisfaction in my uncontrolled mind – I need to master my mind and attain freedom from samsara. I decided to meditate with all my effort on cherishing others, and holding that determination in mind, I moved on.
I needed to transition into a more focused state of mind before the main meditation, so I concentrated first on my body, relaxing each part in turn as I breathed in and out. Once my body was relaxed, I turned my attention inwards to my heart, and let my focus rest on the point at the very centre of my heart, where I imagined my Guru sitting on a lotus. I came closer and closer until I felt that we were superimposed upon each other, and then we mixed completely like water mixed with water, our minds completely one. I felt his supreme stillness and mental stability fill my mind, and I rested there, unmoving, for a while…
I then thought about cherishing others. All the happiness in the world comes from cherishing others. I thought about my wishes for this life. I want to have meaningful relationships with others. I don’t want to be a spectator in this life, and find at the end that I was merely watching the years go by. I want to mesh with others – be part of them. I think this will bring true meaning to my life. How should I do this? Self-cherishing is not the basis upon which to do this. Self-cherishing is the path to isolation, not the path to others.
I felt like I could see my cherishing love spread out to others, and through this I could become mixed with them – form deep and meaningful relationships with them, and grow spiritually with them. I know that this is the way to achieve my wishes for this life. I focused on this feeling of cherishing others, and how it will fulfil my wishes, and felt a deep warm glowing feeling of love for others. When this had established, I focused on it for a while…
After that, I wondered what this meant in terms of Bodhichitta.
Bodhichitta is dependent upon its parts. Cherishing others is an essential part of Bodhichitta. It seemed to me that just as you can’t have a wave without water, you cannot have Bodhichitta without the mind which cherishes others. If I can establish a mind which cherishes others constantly, then Bodhichitta will naturally arise in my mind without effort. Cherishing others is the path to Bodhichitta, and with this wonderful thought, I returned to my mind which cherished others completely and enjoyed that blissful feeling for the rest of my meditation.
May all living beings cherish others, and may Bodhichitta arise in their minds, propelling them to perfect and complete enlightenment.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will cherish others with all my heart, and recognise that cherishing others will make my life meaningful, and allow me to die without regrets.
The purpose of this meditation is to understand the mind of compassion, meditate on it and then to consider what this means in light of the fact that all living beings are our mother.
I began with some simple breathing meditation – not counting the breaths but just watching as the breath came in and when out, over and over again. After a while my mind was quite calm and stable, and I began the meditation.
I started by thinking about the suffering of others.
In the same way that I experience suffering, so do others. They experience birth, sickness, ageing and death. They experience separation from the people and things they want to be with. They experience contact with situations they would rather avoid. They experience the bitter disappointment of failing to fulfil their wishes.
I thought about their sufferings for a while. Mostly their sufferings are not visible to me as I walk past these people in shops or sit next to them on the tube. If is easy (and convenient) to forget the suffering of others. But if I could see a bar chart of their sufferings floating above their heads, I would see the seven sufferings expressed in columns of pain. With some people the highest column would be sickness; with others it would be failure to fulfil their wishes. But one thing is for sure – they would all have this chart, because everyone is trapped in the prison of samsara, experiencing constant suffering.
What is the normal reaction when we contemplate the sufferings of others? Most people would shrug their shoulders with the thought ‘that’s awful, but I have my own suffering to deal with, and in any case, what can I do about ALL that suffering?’
That would be possible for me too, except that I have exchanged self with others.
I have exchanged my own self concern for the concern for others. I don’t care about my own suffering. I care about the suffering of others.
So here I am. I have found the suffering of others to be unbearable, but I cannot turn away from them, because I have taken the decision to love all living beings more than I love myself.
This is where compassion grows. At this point where we do not turn away from the suffering of others, but gaze into it while at the same time remembering our complete cherishing love for other suffering beings – this is where the only possible emotional response is that of compassion. ‘I cannot bear the sufferings of all these kind beings – I must do something about this suffering – I cannot turn away’. I let these concepts roll around in my mind and I felt a deep compassion for all living beings rise up within me. I stayed with this feeling for a while.
After a while I decided to bring in the additional thought that all living beings are my kind mother. This reinforced the feeling of compassion enormously. All these suffering beings, from whom cannot turn away, are my own kind mother, who cared for me with such great kindness for so long. It became even more impossible to contemplate ignoring their suffering. With my cherishing love for my kind mothers and my contemplation of their suffering, I once again felt deep compassion well up in my heart.
In the words of Lama Tayang:
Compassion is the mother of all Buddhas,
Compassion is the most precious treasure of Bodhisattvas,
Compassion is the unseen friend of migrators;
May I be protected by Great Compassion
It seemed to me that the truth of these words shone through like never before. Compassion is the engine of enlightenment. It is the heart and the power of all our actions to free ourselves and others from the rotten prison of samsara. The contemplation of others’ suffering and the force of my cherishing love seemed like two incredibly powerful forces crashing together, and the explosion created was the release of Universal Compassion.
I meditated on this feeling of compassion for the rest of my time on the cushion, and I felt like there was nothing I could not do to bring an end to the suffering of samsara.
May all living beings develop universal love and compassion, and through this realisation quickly follow the path to enlightenment, working for the benefit of others until every living being is free from the suffering of samsara.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to keep this mind of compassion throughout the day, and weave it into all my thoughts and actions.
The purpose of this meditation is to equalise our self-cherishing with our cherishing for others, and then to meditate on this equalisation in light of the fact that all living beings are our mother.
I began once again with some breathing meditation and after a while my mind became sufficiently still to start thinking properly about the main meditation topic.
I thought about my previous meditations where I identified that all living beings are my kind mothers, and I spent a while remembering just how kind my mother has been to me. I thought about how all living beings are very kind to me because they act as objects for my practice. Without them I could not practice.
I thought about something I heard a few days ago. If I walk, I have to do it with my surroundings. I cannot walk independently of my surroundings. If I just think of my body on its own, then it can’t walk anywhere – its legs just move, but it cannot be said to be walking. In the same way, I cannot generate love, compassion or Bodhichitta without other living beings. Without them, these concepts are meaningless.
I thought about their kindness, and then I thought about how they are all trapped in samsara just like me. We are all equal in this respect. Given this situation, I should cherish them as much as I cherish myself. I should work for their happiness just as much as I work for my own. I need to repay their kindness.
As I thought of this, one of the things I like so much about meditation occurred. I imagined all living beings in front of me, and I put my arms around them all. My arms extended around all living beings and hugged them. We were all together and cherishing each other equally. I relaxed and enjoyed the feeling of cherishing others as much as myself.
After a while I thought about what this means in light of the fact that all living beings are my mother. This point was already established in my initial meditation, so I just emphasised it more and returned to the original meditation object. It was a lovely meditation to do – even while sitting in my car in Tesco car park!
May all living beings train in equalising self and others, and through this training quickly attain the happiness of great enlightenment.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to maintain an attitude of cherishing others, and see if I can cherish them as much as I cherish myself.
The purpose of this meditation is to develop a warm and friendly feeling towards all living beings, and then to meditate on this feeling in the light of the fact that all living beings are our mothers.
I began with breathing meditation, counting my breaths from one to eighteen, then starting again at one. I tried to keep my mind on the number of the breath as much as I could. In the beginning my mind darted away from my counting, but after a few cycles with me bringing it back to the breath, I felt my mind become more settled and focused. In the end, my mind seemed to come to rest and I found I could leave the counting and just enjoy the lovely feeling of having a settled mind.
After a short while I moved on to the topic for this meditation. Although I see people all around me who seem to be intrinsically pleasant, unpleasant or just boringly unmoving, these impressions are completely misleading and mistaken. Someone I see as pleasant may well appear to someone else as unpleasant and a trigger for unhappiness. What is the nature of the ‘true’ person?
If I look with my normal eyes I see ordinary appearances, but if I close my normal eyes and look with my wisdom eyes, I can see their true nature. With my wisdom eyes I can see that all living beings are simply suffering beings, trapped in the prison of samsara. They are all the same because they all want to be free from suffering and experience only happiness. Their normal appearances are just my mistaken projections. They deceive me and cause me to behave in ways which are harmful to myself and to others around me.
With my wisdom eyes I can see that developing anger or attachment towards mere appearances does not make any sense. It will only lead to more pain and suffering for myself and others. The best attitude to develop towards others is that of warmth and friendliness, regardless of their normal appearance.
I focused on this wish to see people as the same – suffering beings trapped in samsara – and I concentrated on developing a warm and friendly feeling towards others. I kept this in mind and I felt a lovely warm feeling radiating out from my heart towards all living beings. I stayed in this feeling for a while, familiarising myself with how it feels.
After a while I moved on to the next stage, which was to see what this feeling means in the light of the fact that all living beings are my mother. This was very easy to integrate into my feeling of warmth and friendliness: not only are all living beings the same – they are all my mother. I thought about this beautiful relationship and how completely mixed with love it is.
I have been reading a short book recently which describes the relationship between three people who truly love each other. In their relationship they are completely mixed with each other. There is no ‘me’ and ‘them’ – there is only ‘us’. In a normal relationship there is a hard core to ourselves which knocks and bumps against others when we have disagreements, or when we judge each other. But in their relationship it was like none of them have this hardness, and consequently they have no way of bumping or knocking each other. They laugh together, co-operate, tease each other good naturedly and freely express their pure love and admiration for each other’s good qualities.
I thought about how lovely it would be to have that relationship with my family and everyone else I come into contact with. How delightful and happy it would be simply to be with others!
Once again I thought of the phrase ‘Be the change you want to see’.
I want the softness of love all around me. I want to be in a relationship with everyone I know where we have a genuine love and tenderness for each other. How can I make this happen? By bringing my feeling of love, warmth and friendliness with me into my everyday life. By caring for others by thinking only good things about them. By ignoring their perceived faults and trying to identify and overcome my own. I wanted to bring the softness of this pure love into my whole life and into the lives of everyone around me. I felt completely filled with soft love and the wish to create this in my own life. I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation. It was very moving, and captured everything I am trying to do with my life.
May all living beings learn to use their wisdom eyes to see the true nature of everyone around them. May they use Buddhadharma to bring the softness of love into their lives, and through the cherishing of others, may they spread joy and happiness across the world, quickly attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all.
May Geshe Kelsang live for a very long time and continue to give pure Buddhadharma to all living beings. May the tradition of Je Tsongkahapa flourish and bring good fortune to all living beings. May the Gurus, teachers and practitioners have very long lives full of good conditions. May all living beings open their hearts and receive the blessings of the Buddhas. May they find happiness and peace, and may the experience of samsara quickly come to an end.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will care for others by thinking only good things about them. I will ignore their faults and try instead to identify and overcome my own. Using my wisdom eyes, I will to bring the softness of this pure love into my whole life and into the lives of everyone around me.
The purpose of this meditation is to develop the real wish to abandon the self-cherishing and cherish only others, and then to meditate on this wish in the light of equanimity.
I began with some breathing meditation, watching my breath until my distractions had subsided enough for me to move on to the meditation proper.
I started by thinking about what a horrible mind self-cherishing is, and how it defiles all our efforts to be virtuous. It’s not enough to equalise my cherishing of others with my cherishing of myself – I need to abandon it completely. I thought about standing astride a line – one side was light, the other side was dark. The light side was the side of cherishing others, the dark side was the side of self-cherishing.
I don’t want any self-cherishing at all in my mind. I imagined stepping across, out of the dark, into the light. I imagined lights and nectars flowing down into me, completely filling me with light and cherishing love for others. I let this light fill me and I stayed with this for a while.
I then thought about what this means in the light of equanimity. With equanimity it is easy to develop a warm and friendly feeling towards all living beings. The feeling is part of cherishing others, and with this recognition I returned to my place standing in the light.
May all living beings step into the light of cherishing others, and abandon the darkness of self-cherishing, so that they can become Buddhas for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to only cherish others, and whenever I notice self-cherishing arising, try to oppose it and abandon it for the worthless and despicable mind that it is.
The purpose of this meditation is to remember the kindness of living beings when they were our mother and at other times, and then to think about this in the light of actions and their effects.
I began the meditation by thinking about how mothers give unconditional love to their children. When they cradle their new born baby mothers gaze at them with complete love – all the pain and suffering of birth is forgotten. As children grow the love mothers feel remains. The mothers of criminals in prison still love their children, despite their actions.
Even now I experience benefit from the actions of others, even though they are not my mother of this life. I thought about how all living beings are my mother and how they would shine a special light of love down on me if our true relationship were revealed. I thought about all the kindness they would give me if they recognised our relationship. I felt the light of love shining on me and felt loved and protected by all living beings. I also felt a wish to repay their kindness, and love and protect them. I stayed with this feeling for a while.
I then thought about what this means in the light of actions and their effects. Mothers love their children because of the karmic link between them. The way I see it is that we all have the potential to have a karmic link as strong as a mother for her child, but due to other karma, this link is expressed or suppressed. If I can create the conditions I can make my connection with others as strong as with a mother for her child. If I train in affectionate love I can develop such a strong feeling of love that it will be able to overcome any negative actions others appear to be performing at the time.
I increased my determination to train in affectionate love and to both feel and shine the light of love.
May all living beings train in affectionate love by remembering the kindness of all living beings, and thereby become Buddhas for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will note the kindness of others and remember the web of actions which assemble my comfortable western lifestyle, which I can enjoy with very little effort from my side.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong wish to cherish others, and then to meditate on this wish in the light of the dangers of lower rebirth.
“If we cherish others, we shall be concerned to help rather than harm them…”
The words ‘help rather than harm’ struck a chord with me, and I thought about the benefits of helping rather than harming others:
- My superficial problems will disappear and I will experience immediate happiness
- Others whom I help will experience an alleviation of their suffering and temporary happiness
- I will cease creating negative karma, leading to long term reduction in my sufferings
- I will be able to generate Bodhichitta, and become a Buddha – permanently happy and free from suffering
- As a Buddha I will be able to help all living beings perfectly, and bring them permanent happiness
I focused on these benefits for a while and then returned to the wish to help rather than harm others – in other words to cherish them. I felt like this path would cause myself and others great happiness, and I rode on the wind of this feeling like a kite on the breeze, with a feeling of lightness, stable calmness and happiness. It was delightful and I stayed with this feeling for a while.
Then I thought about what this means in the context of the sufferings of the lower realms. These sufferings are caused by my negative actions, and if I am mindful while helping rather than harming others, I will be purifying my negativities rather than adding to them. I returned to my floating, blissful feeling of wishing to help others, in the fuller knowledge of the benefits of this practice. I stayed with this until my iphone told me my time was up.
May all living beings help rather than harm one another, and through this simple practice become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try never to forget my determination and always pur it into practice. I will try to keep in mind the great advantages of cherishing others, and continually improve my consideration, respect and love for others.
“We can being the practice with our family, friends and those who surround us, and then gradually extend this to all living beings without exception. In this way, we shall show the best example of pure Dharma practice.”
The purpose of this meditation is to gain thorough familiarity with the benefits of cherishing others.
I began the meditation by remembering that cherishing others is the cause of all the happiness in the world. That is quite a statement. Can it really be that simple?
I thought about pushing away all the things that I normally associate with being happy, or rather the attachment to them. So gadgets, food, possessions, time for selfish activities – I mentally pushed them away as sources of happiness. They also bring so many problems and complications.
I then turned my attention to cherishing others. If I cherish others my relationships with they will be harmonious. My time with them will be easy and happy. If they are unkind to me, I will not be upset.
I thought about how, when someone disagrees with me, I can instantly feel a dipping in my cherishing for them, quickly turning to dislike. That is my self-cherishing at work. Just because someone disagrees with me, there is no particular reason to start to dislike them! That will just cause more problems.
If I cherish people sincerely, I will not even forgive them for their negative actions, because I will recognise there is nothing to forgive. As Geshe-la says in Eight Steps to Happiness, living beings have no faults! How is this so? Because any negative actions they perform are really the fault of their delusions.
If living beings were free from their delusions and saw the results of their actions clearly, they would never choose to act in negative ways. So there is never any reason to become angry with others because of their actions – we should cherish everyone all the time. (I would just add that we do need to protect people from negative actions from time to time – we need to lock up murderers to keep everyone else safe and to stop them committing more negative actions, but in a civilised society their punishment is being locked up – there is no need to develop hatred or anger towards them).
I thought about how, if I can fill my mind with the wish to cherish others, my whole experience will be that of cherishing. My whole world will be pervaded by cherishing love.
I decided to let my mind abide in this idea that all the happiness in the world comes from cherishing others, and my mind was filled with a beautiful feeling of cherishing love for everyone.
May all living beings realise that all the happiness in the world comes from cherishing others, and thereby attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
We have a houseful of guests this weekend so I will have many opportunities to cherish others with whom I already have a good relationship. This is a great opportunity for me to familiarise my mind with cherishing others, and a great preparation for my practice of cherishing those with whom I have a less good relationship.
The purpose of this meditation is to help us develop affectionate love for others my remembering how kind they have been to us in the past.
He says that we need to remember the kindness of our mother of this life, because if we cannot appreciate how kind our own mother has been, there is no way we will be able appreciate how kind all living beings have been.
Geshe-la gives many examples of how kind our mother has been to us. At one point he says that our mother will clean the filth from our body without feeling disgust. This is true. I remember one time how I was changing my son’s nappy when he started to do a poo. I put my hand out instinctively and let him poo onto it. I remember thinking at the time that it ought to be disgusting – but it wasn’t. I had such natural affection for him that even excrement was not disgusting if it came from him.
I focused on the idea that my mother loved me so much that nothing I did would upset or disgust her. I thought about the power of love – her love for me. I kept on thinking about this love, and I felt her love. She still loves me so much, even though she can hardly remember anything, her love for me is still strong.
I let this idea of being loved fill my mind, and then I brought in the idea that all living beings have also loved me in just the same way. I felt like I was completely cocooned in love, in a beautiful white ball of pure love. I felt safe and cherished.
I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings remain mindful of the love they have received from all living beings, and thereby become Buddhas for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will always remember the unconditional love my mother has for me, and remain grateful for it.