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The purpose of this meditation is to generate the feeling of engaging in all actions with the intention to benefit ‘us’ rather than just ‘I’.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then thought about how all living beings are my mother and how kind they have been to me in the past. I then reminded myself of their struggle to find happiness in this world, and how their struggle is also my struggle. We are all the same in that we are all struggling to find happiness and to be free from suffering. Our problem is that we lack the wisdom to understand where happiness really comes from.

cherishing othersWherever I look I see people struggling to be happy, but looking in the wrong place – misidentifying the actual cause of their problems. They think their problems come from the external world, and if only they could remove these external problems, they would be happy. But this approach is doomed – once one ‘problem’ is overcome, two more will take its place.

I thought about how my goal of achieving permanent inner peace through the practice of Dharma is the actual path to happiness.

I made the determination that from now on, I will engage in all my actions with a virtuous motivation, not just for my own sake, but for the sake of all living beings. Not just for me, but for us. I focused on this thought – not me, but us – for the rest of the meditation, and developed the real determination to engage in all my actions with the wish that they be the cause of freedom for all living beings.

Dedication

May all living beings quickly attain enlightenment and permanent freedom from samsara’s sufferings.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remember my determination, and engage in all my actions with the intention to benefit not just me, but us.

The purpose of this meditation is to equalise our motivations for ourselves with our motivations for others. We then consider what this means in terms of taking the sufferings of others.

I began by meditating on my breath and mixing my mind with my Guru’s mind, before moving on to the main meditation.

I refreshed my memory of the warmth and friendliness I need to generate towards others, and then I thought of the fact that all others are really my mother – my kind mother of past lives. With this feeling of warmth and appreciation, I thought about how much I owe them. How much in their debt I am.

As I rolled this thought around in my mind, I felt a growing wish to repay their kindness, and a realisation that when I perform any action, it should be with the motivation to benefit others just as much as I wish to benefit myself. I thought of this like being 360 degree work, where the actions I perform are not just for my benefit (in one direction) but for the benefit of all (360 degrees). I latched on to this idea and let it fill my attention, and I focused on it for a while…

I then moved on to bring in the frame of taking – what does this 360 work mean in terms of the practice of taking?

It seemed to me that if I can embed the idea of working for the benefit of all living beings in everything I do, it will lay perfect foundations for the practice of taking on the sufferings of all living beings. With this in mind, I returned to the idea of 360 degree work for the benefit of myself and others.

Dedication

May all living beings practice equalising self and others, and through their endeavours for the benefit of all living beings, may they attain the exalted state of enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to keep this idea of 360 degree work throughout the day, and recognise that all my actions should be for the benefit of all living beings as well as to my own benefit.

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!

Dedication

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 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.

Dedication

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 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.

Dedication

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.

Modern Buddhism

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