The purpose of this meditation is to develop the strong belief that we have successfully taken on the sufferings of others and that we have destroyed our own self-cherishing. Following this we meditate on this belief in the light of equanimity.

I began the meditation by relaxing my body in four parts. With each out breath, I imagined my head and shoulders, then my trunk, then my arms, and finally my legs becoming relaxed. I repeated the cycle several times until my body felt very relaxed and light. I then imagined the tension at my heart relaxing, and felt a deep relaxation spread throughout my body and mind. Finally I imagined entering my heart and sitting in meditation at my heart, in the centre of my mind. I developed a very stable concentration, and then moved on to the next stage of the meditation.

I thought about my experiences yesterday, and my strong wish for all living beings to be free from their suffering. I remembered my love for all living beings, and through the power of this love I decided that I, myself, would free all living beings from their sufferings. I imagined standing before the wheel of life, looking at all the suffering beings, and declaring ‘I will free you from your suffering! I will take your suffering now”.

I thought about the various sufferings of the six realms, and imagined that their suffering, problems and obstructions rose out of them in the aspect of black smoke. The smoke rose out of each realm in turn and swirled around me like black stars around the centre of a galaxy. Finally all six realms had given up their sufferings, and every living being was free from suffering. I observed them – they were free!

Then I imagined that this swirling black smoke gradually came closer and closer in towards me, circling my heart, before dissolving into my heart. As this massive cloud dissolved into my heart, it destroyed my self-cherishing, and I realised that I was completely free from suffering, both now and in the future. I felt completely filled with joy, and it felt like I was rising higher and higher away from my normal state and going up to a pure state where those who are free from suffering abide.

I enjoyed this feeling while at the same time remembering that to achieve this I must take the suffering of others. It struck me as ironic that normally we cannot bear the idea of taking on the suffering of others (we cannot even bear our own suffering). But in fact, by taking on the suffering of others, we actually achieve complete freedom from suffering!

I focused on this wonderful, joyous feeling of freedom for a long while.

Then I moved on to the last stage of the meditation, where I looked at this feeling in the light of equanimity. My warm and friendly feelings for others – for all other living beings – is the reason I can free others. If I did not love others, I would not be motivated to free them from their suffering. Knowing that my taking the suffering of others is motivated by this love made it seem all the more precious, and I focused again on the feeling of freedom – freedom of myself and others.

Dedication

May all living beings learn that freedom from suffering comes from taking on the suffering of others, and though this practice may they quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remember my determination to take on the sufferings of others, both practically and mentally, for the rest of the meditation break.