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The purpose of this meditation is to develop a beautiful sense of everyone being equal in terms of their predicament.
I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then started the meditation by contemplating all beings in samsara. They all want the same thing – to be free from suffering and to enjoy uninterrupted and permanent happiness. They work so hard to achieve this, but because of their ignorance, they do not see the true cause of their suffering, or the route to happiness.
They spend so much time and effort trying to control samsara (like my engineers of yesterday’s meditation) when they should be trying to control their own minds.
I thought of how much we all want to be happy and free from suffering. We are all just suffering beings, trapped in the prison of samsara, looking for a way out.
I focused on the idea that we are all the same, and all wanting to be free from our suffering. I was filled with a feeling of being one with others, and connected with them in the sense that we all in the same predicament, and all wish for the same thing.
May all living beings feel their connection with others, and understand that we are all the same.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to maintain the understanding that all beings in samsara want the same thing – to be free from suffering, and to find true lasting happiness.
The purpose of this meditation is to equalise the cherishing feeling we have for ourselves with the cherishing we feel for others, and then contemplate this feeling in the context of the danger of rebirth in the lower realms.
I began the meditation by thinking about how everyone has the same wish – to be happy and free from suffering. We all have this wish in common. I thought about what it is like to be in a club with other like-minded people. When we are in a club and share the values and aims of others in the club – we feel closer to other members in the group because of this commonality.
I thought about how I am in a club with all living beings. We all want the same things – to be happy and free from suffering. I felt close to all living beings like we were all in the same club. I let this feeling of being close to others fill my mind. I thought about how I need to work for the happiness of others as much as I work for my own happiness. We are all the same – all have the same wishes. I need to cherish others as much as myself. I focused on this feeling for a while.
I then thought about this in the light of the sufferings of the lower realms. We all want to avoid all sufferings. Normally we are only thinking about the sufferings of this life, but we need to think about avoiding the sufferings of the lower realms too. Not only do I need to cherish others as much as myself, but I need to avoid acting in ways which cause them suffering but arguing etc. I kept my mind on this idea of working for others and avoiding conflict with them.
May all living beings come cherish others as much as they cherish themselves, and become Buddhas for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try feel as strong a cherishing feeling for others as I do for myself.
The purpose of this meditation is to develop a feeling of cherishing ourself and others equally, in the light of the meaning of our precious human life.
I began the meditation by remembering that the appearances of other living beings are deceptive, and although they look unfamiliar and different, they are, in essence, not other than my own kind mother, who has cared for me more than she cared for herself. I let the feeling of affectionate love rise in my mind towards all living beings.
From there I contemplated that myself and all living beings are equal in the sense that we are all suffering beings, trapped in the prison of samsara. Just as I want to experience happiness and avoid all suffering, so to do all living beings – we are equal in this respect. Finally I considered the fact that there are many other living beings all wishing for happiness and release from suffering, whereas I am only one individual. I work hard for my own happiness, but given who others really are (my kind mothers) and that their wishes and my wishes are the same, I should work equally for their happiness too. How could I do anything else?
As I thought about this, a feeling of ‘equal’ arose in my mind. A thought occurred to me about my children. The three of them are all different, but I love them equally. I care for them equally. I want all three of them to be happy and free from suffering in just the same way. I let this feeling of ‘equal’ extend to all living beings: I cherish myself and all living beings equally. I settled on this thought for a while.
Finally I stepped back from this object and asked – what does this mean in the context of my having a precious human life? My ability to cherish all living beings equally (and the understanding of how to do this and why) are all possible because I now have a precious human life. This life is incredibly rare, and so my ability to cherish myself and others equally is also incredibly rare.
I felt a special quality of rareness add itself to my feeling of ‘equal’, so that it became incredibly special and precious.
All my contemplations seemed to come together: The appearances of others are deceptive, which made their appearances fade away. My cherishing of them is equal to my cherishing of myself, which made any divide between myself and others in terms of cherishing fade away. It seemed to me that there was no difference between myself and others – we were all equal in terms of my cherishing. Equal and inseparable. It felt like all the barriers were down, and I my mind was completely mixed with others.
I felt a very profound smooth, open, outward flowing, peaceful feeling of cherishing all living beings equally, which I remained focused on for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings cherish themselves and others equally, and thereby become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to remember how rare my opportunity to cherish myself and others equally is, and to do so constantly throughout the day with my thoughts and actions.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate and meditate on the strong belief that the happiness and freedom of others is equally important to our own happiness and freedom. This is the first step in developing cherishing love.
“Learning to cherish others is the best solution to our daily problems and it is the source of all our future happiness and good fortune.”
With this statement giving me a strong motivation, I considered that all living beings have been very kind to me in this life and in previous lives. I am deeply in their debt.
I considered that I am just one person, whereas others are countless: their freedom and happiness is much more important than mine alone.
With all this in mind I considered what would be the most sensible course of action. I owe alot to others, they are the same as me, and there are so many more of them. I reached the conclusion that if I am working hard to liberate myself from suffering, I cannot possibly leave them to suffer. They have been very kind to me, to allow me this precious opportunity – how can I abandon them now? It is my obligation to cherish them as much as myself, and help them as much as I help myself.
I reached the conclusion that I need to work for the happiness and freedom of all living beings as hard as I work for my own. I should cherish all other living beings as dearly as I cherish myself – we are equally important. I stayed with this thought, and slowly a feeling of being equal with others arose in my mind. I was not above them, at the peak of some mountain, with all others well below me in significance: we were all at the same level – all equal. I felt a firm feeling of equality, and debt owed to them: I felt them to be as important as I am. I stayed with this belief for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings come to view others as being their equals in the sense that their freedom and happiness are as important as everyone else’s, and through this belief may they quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will maintain the view that other’s freedom and happiness are as important as my own.
The purpose of this meditation is to equalise our self-cherishing and our cherishing of others.
Now that I have recognised that all living beings are essentially equal behind their appearances, that they have all been my own mother and that they have been (and continue to be) very kind to me, I should now think about how they are similar to me.
All living beings are the same as me. I want to avoid suffering. So does everyone else. I want to attain pure happiness. So does everyone else. All our other differences are unimportant. They are like a speck of dust compared to the whole Earth. I had the (rather alarming) picture of everyone else being me. I felt that it was as important that they achieve their desires as I achieve my desires. They were of the same importance. I naturally felt that is was as important for me to make their wishes happen as my own.
I stayed with this feeling that I and everyone else were equally important and my efforts should be shared between myself and others. It felt expansive and equal, calm and open.
May all living beings equalise themselves and others, and quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will remember that in the most meaningful way, I am the same as everyone I meet.
The purpose of this meditation is to overcome our normal, unbalanced view of other people, and replace it with a feeling of warm friendliness. Our unbalanced views are the main obstacles to us developing unbiased love, compassion and bodhichitta.
I began the meditation by thinking about how I view others. I normally maintain a pretty balanced view of others, and usually maintain a warm friendly manner. But if I am honest, there are some people who I find it easier to be friendly to than others. I decided that I needed to be clear about the need to be absolutely equally friendly to everyone.
It struck me that this was such a simple and energy saving way to live! Instead of developing negative views of people and holding on to dislike and resentment, and having to maintain these energy sapping emotions, I can simply be warm and friendly to everyone, and be happy! Treating everyone equally warmly will mean I will be happy all the time.
I focused on this feeling of being happy, warm and friendly for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings abandon distorted views of others, and come to realise equanimity in their own minds, and ultimately become enlightened beings.
Practice in the meditation break
In the break I will make a specific determination to behave in a warm and friendly manner towards everyone I meet.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate a feeling of cherishing all living beings equally.
I began by recalling the fact that all living beings are my mother, and that in past lives and in this life, I have received immense kindness from each and every one of them. I let my mind dwell on that thought and I was filled with a feeling of gratitude.
Then I turned to look at where my main concerns lie. At the moment, I am almost totally concerned with myself. I hardly think about the happiness of others at all. I am filled with self-cherishing.
This is not fair. It is shameful. All these very kind beings give me help continuously, and all I am interested in is my own happiness. It is like having a close and dear friend giving me help, and my turning my back on them. How could I possibly do that?
I thought about what my self-cherishing looked like. It appeared as a high and huge mountain. A single massive mountain in a vast endless landscape. All my concern and cherishing was in this mountain, focused on one spot – me. Then I imagined the mountain melted, and spread out over all the landscape, representing me spreading out my cherishing equally to all living beings.
I focused on the feeling of this concern spreading out equally, and how smooth and fair it felt. I had found my object of meditation, and I focused on it for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings attain the realisation of equalizing self and others, and thereby attain enlightenment for the sake of all living beings.
Practice in the meditation break
Through remembering the kindness of all other living beings, I will endeavour today to see it as my duty to cherish them as much as I cherish myself, because this is only fair.
I began the meditation by remembering the kindness of others, and generating a warm and friendly feeling towards them.
I then thought about how they were just like me. They have problems and from their point of view these problems are just as important as mine. In that way we are all equal. I let this sense of being of equal value rest in my mind for a while.
Then I pictured a gold coin on a table. Next to it was a neat stack of similar gold coins. If we were to decide which was the most valuable, we would have to agree that the stack of coins was more valuable than the one coin. In the same way, we have to agree that the problems of many people is more important than the problems of just one person. I let this sink into my mind.
I then thought that given the previous contemplations, I should really work for the happiness of others just as much as myself. I thought about this and slowly a feeling of equality and worth arose in my mind. I felt a recognition that all living beings were of equal value and it seems perfectly natural to have them in my heart just as much as myself. I felt a clear, open balanced feeling which represented everything I had been thinking about, and I kept that feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings, including myself, come to cherish others just as much as we cherish ourselves, and eventually achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings.
practice in the meditation break
Today I will be checking my mind for signs of unbalanced attitudes to others. I will see if there are some people for whom I have less concern and cherishing, and I will strive to correct this at the time.
I began this meditation by thinking about other living beings and how they endure constant problems and suffering. These living beings have been so kind to me in the past, holding me in their love again and again. But now they seem like strangers who have no connection with me at all.
It is easy to think only of my own suffering and problems, and ignore theirs. Why is this? Because I have direct awareness of my own suffering and problems.
But if I think about it, I can see that their sufferings and problems are just as important as my own. I am only one person but there are countless other living beings – their combined suffering and problems are like a planet compared to the speck of dust which is mine.
I felt as if I had a hoard of concern for my own ‘self’. It felt like a mountain, tightly bound up in my wish for myself to be happy, keeping it tied up tightly around me.
As I thought about how I could work for just my own happiness or I could work for everyone’s happiness, I felt the cords binding this concern break. I felt all the concern and energy I give myself flood out and away, so that it spread out to all living beings equally with myself.
I felt relief and happiness. I felt that I could work easily for everyone else’s happiness, without even a second’s hesitation. In fact, the very idea of hesitation did not exist. If I perceived something I could do to help someone else, I would do it instantly, as if I were doing it for myself.
I gazed at this feeling for the rest of the meditation. It was extremely smooth and contented.
My aim today is to maintain this feeling of wishing to cherish others just as much as I cherish myself.
I began this meditation by looking at how other people appear to me. Some of them appear attractive, whereas others appear unattractive, and most appear somewhere in between. Then I thought about how my mind reacts when I come into contact with these people. For attractive people, or people who do nice things for me, my mind leaps around, doing somersaults of excitement. For unattractive people, or people who give me problems, I develop unhappy, unwelcoming attitudes of dislike.
I considered that the appearance these people normally have for me is deceptive, and causes my mind to swing from happy to unhappy – out of my control. I realised that if I want to develop minds of universal compassion and love for all living beings, I am going to have to bring my mind under control and not be swayed by these appearances.
Some odd imagery came to mind: Instead of my mind being like a ball, bouncing around being hit this way and that by the appearances of others, it should be like a massive sponge, which maintains a stable inner core, and the appearances of others can crash against the outer surface, but they are quickly absorbed and don’t disturb the inner peace inside. It was not literally a sponge, but the feeling of that quality of a sponge, that was in my mind.
I realised that I can come into contact with people who I find attractive and unattractive, and maintain a warm and friendly attitude to them all, regardless of what they are doing or saying. I felt a warm friendly feeling to all living beings – that they were all equal in this attitude. I felt like warm sunshine was shining on my heart, and this warmth flowed out to all living beings equally.
I stayed on this feeling for the rest of the meditation.
During this meditation I realised that there is a difference between disagreeing with someone and disliking them. I realised that normally if we disagree with someone, the feeling of dislike and aversion arises immediately and seems to be the same entity. But in fact we do not have to dislike someone just because we disagree with them. The two are quite separate.
Through this meditation I realised that if someone is acting in a way we disagree with, it is quite easy to maintain a warm friendly feeing to that person without any hint of dislike. In this way our mind is protected from delusions and their effects. And when the person changes their actions (or we change our view) there is no ‘dislike’ to work through before we can start liking them.
Another image came to mind in the meditation. I realised my mind had the nature of a clear openness, and in that spacelike emptiness, the appearances of others simply passed through it, without coming into contact with it at all. (Instead of ‘bumping’ into it like the sponge). This worked in terms of the idea of stability, but I lost the sense of warmth and friendliness. Bearing in mind that the feeling of warmth and friendliness is the object of this meditation, I decided that this line of thought was not good for this meditation, and I returned to the idea of the sponge, to get the feeing of contact back.
It was lovely to spend an hour mixing my mind with my spiritual Father today, on Father’s Day in the UK. Thank you Geshe-la, for everything you have done for me. I will try my best to put your instructions into practice every moment of every day.