The purpose of this meditation is to exchange our current self with someone else – namely to try and identify with someone else so strongly that we think of them as ‘I’.

I started by developing the motivation to meditate on this because I and all living beings are trapped in the prison of samsara, and to be free we need to free ourselves of the normal conceptions of ‘self’ and ‘others’.

I then imagined and believed that all living beings we’re around me and all the Buddhas were in front of me, composed of beautiful golden light and smiling at me with great kindness.

I meditated on my breath for a while and then moved on to the main meditation.

We are staying with my in-laws over Christmas and I decided to take my Father in Law as my person to exchange with. I thought about his life and tried to see things from his point of view.

He comes from South Wales, although he now lives in the south of England and has done so for most of his life. But if you were to ask him, he would say – with enormous pride – that he is Welsh. I wondered how he feels about this now he is in his 80s. Does he regret spending so much of his life away from the country he views as ‘his’? Does he think he missed on the cultural life which arises simply from being with his own kin?

I then thought about his current situation. His wife is starting with dementia and their relationship is deteriorating. She forgets things all the time and accuses him of not telling her things – he finds it hard to accept that she is losing her memory and thinks that if he reminds her enough, she will remember. Both are acting in ways which upset the other. Neither understands what to do. They switch from being loving to speaking hatefully to each other at the drop of hat. As Geshe-la says in How to Solve Our Human Problems, a couple may find that before the last row is over, a new one has begun – love cannot thrive in such an atmosphere.

From this I thought about how sad he must be feeling, and how I can help him while I am here. I can help with cooking and tidying, and help him with my experience of my own mother’ dementia.

I also thought about what it means to love. What kind of love would be needed to handle this situation? A deep, patient love which would be as deep as an ocean. A shallow love would be surface deep, rocked and overturned by small ripples on the surface. but a deep, patient love is so deep, so stable that even the biggest most destructive waves will never overcome it. We need to develop deep, patient love, so that superficial difficulties do not become the causes of ruined relationships.

We don’t want to find someone to love us like this.

We want to be able to love everyone else like this – this is the cause of true happiness.

I focused on this wish to develop a deep, patient love, understanding what it would feel like. It was profound and lovely.

I then thought about what this means in terms of emptiness.  Once again, I thought about the fact that I myself, the other person, and the act of holding love are empty of inherent existence. If the other person were inherently existent, then they would always be the same, and incapable of changing due to their independence from other phenomena. In which case, if I do not love them, then I will never be able to love them. But this is not the case, and my love for them can develop and become strong on the basis not of what they do for me, but on the basis of how I think about them. It is because they lack inherent existence that love can grow.

I thought about these points and then returned to mixing my mind with the feeling of deep, patient love.

Dedication

May all living beings develop deep, patient love.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to practice the three patiences of voluntarily enduring suffering, definitely thinking about dharma and not retaliating