The purpose of this meditation is to generate a strong sense of compassion for all living beings, and then to meditate on this wish in the light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing.

I began by doing black and white breathing meditation as described by Gen-la Dekyong in yesterday’s Modern Buddhism Event in Manchester. I breathed out my distracting thoughts in the aspect of black smoke, which drifted off and disappeared into the distance. As I breathed in, I imagined inspiring white light entering my crown and coming down into my heart. Slowly my mind became beautifully clear and peaceful. I stayed in that state for a while.

I then moved on to the main mediation, and called to mind my affectionate love for all living beings. I thought: all living beings appear as friends, enemies or neutral, but in reality they are my kind mothers from past lives. They have been so kind to me in the past, and I wish to repay their kindness.

I then thought of how living beings are suffering. Everyone I know either is suffering right now, or will suffer in the future. There is no escape in samsara. Some people seem to be young and healthy at the moment – happy and carefree. But as Geshe-la says in Joyful Path of Good Fortune, the cow that is to be slaughtered in a year’s time is just as much a suitable object for compassion as one that is to be slaughtered tomorrow.

I relaxed and let my affectionate love and my contemplation of all living beings’ suffering settle into my mind.

As I thought things through, I imagined a line of my friends – all walking towards suffering. As I tried to talk to them, I realised that they were in a sort of trance – they were ignoring the manifest suffering they had, and were walking towards the temporary happiness of samsara, which was really just more suffering. I tried to talk to them and pull on their shoulders to make them turn away from their direction, but I could not. I turned and saw my Spiritual Guide standing with me and I said to him ‘Please help me here. I can’t bear them to be walking towards their suffering. What can I do?’. He told me to develop the strongest possible wish that they be free from their suffering.

I thought: I cannot bear to see this – all these people are heading towards suffering. I wish they could be free. Then sunlight spilled over the scene and I saw not just one line of my friends, but millions of people all walking in the same direction. I felt my wish for them to be free extend over all of them – apply to all of them.

I felt filled with this wish for them to be free from their suffering, and I focused single-pointedly on this wish for a while.

After some time, I moved on to think about what this means in light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing.  Again, I imagined the scene in front of me. Self-cherishing appeared as a dark character putting his arm around my shoulder, turning me away from the lines of people. He said: ‘Don’t worry about all these people… Their suffering does not affect you… You can’t do anything about the suffering of ALL these people… It’s just not possible.’ I shrugged off his shoulder and look back at the scene and thought: ‘These people are all my kind mothers – I will not abandon them’. Once again, I felt filled with the wish for all living beings to be free from suffering, and remained on this wish for the rest of the meditation.


May all living beings recognise that whatever their superficial appearance, all others are in reality their most kind and loving mother. May they develop Great Compassion and travel the path to Buddhahood for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will keep a mind of compassion towards all living beings – there is not one person who is not a suitable object of compassion.