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The purpose of this meditation is to generate a complete feeling of warmth and friendliness towards all other living beings, and then to look at this feeling in light of wishing love.

I began by dissolving my Guru into my heart and mixing his stability and stillness with my own mind. After a while of enjoying this very peaceful and lovely experience, I moved on to the main meditation.

I began by thinking about how in the past, my friends have often turned into strangers, or even enemies. In the past, people who have been my enemies have become my friends, or strangers. In the past, strangers have become friends, enemies, and even both, over time. Given these changing relationships, what is the best way for me to maintain positive states of mind? To react to these changing appearances with hatred or attachment? No. The best way to decide from my own side to hold an attitude which will protect me. I decided that I will only hold a warm and friendly feeling towards all others from now on. Focused on the warm and friendly feeling, and tried to keep it firmly in my mind while I meditated…

After a while I decided to see what this means in light of wishing love.

It seemed to me that equanimity was an essential part of wishing love, or an essential step in attaining wishing love. Knowing that equanimity was an essential part of wishing love, I returned to my intention to only have a warm and friendly feeling in my heart for the rest of the day, and for the rest of my life. Lovely.

Dedication

May all living beings see all their problems solved by keeping a warm and friendly attitude towards others.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to keep in mind my determination to maintain a warm and friendly feeling towards others.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a warm and friendly feeling towards all living beings, and then to meditate on this feeling in the light of the fact that all living beings are our mothers.

I began with breathing meditation, counting my breaths from one to eighteen, then starting again at one. I tried to keep my mind on the number of the breath as much as I could. In the beginning my mind darted away from my counting, but after a few cycles with me bringing it back to the breath, I felt my mind become more settled and focused. In the end, my mind seemed to come to rest and I found I could leave the counting and just enjoy the lovely feeling of having a settled mind.

After a short while I moved on to the topic for this meditation. Although I see people all around me who seem to be intrinsically pleasant, unpleasant or just boringly unmoving, these impressions are completely misleading and mistaken. Someone I see as pleasant may well appear to someone else as unpleasant and a trigger for unhappiness. What is the nature of the ‘true’ person?

If I look with my normal eyes I see ordinary appearances, but if I close my normal eyes and look with my wisdom eyes, I can see their true nature. With my wisdom eyes I can see that all living beings are simply suffering beings, trapped in the prison of samsara. They are all the same because they all want to be free from suffering and experience only happiness. Their normal appearances are just my mistaken projections. They deceive me and cause me to behave in ways which are harmful to myself and to others around me.

With my wisdom eyes I can see that developing anger or attachment towards mere appearances does not make any sense. It will only lead to more pain and suffering for myself and others. The best attitude to develop towards others is that of warmth and friendliness, regardless of their normal appearance.

I focused on this wish to see people as the same – suffering beings trapped in samsara – and I concentrated on developing a warm and friendly feeling towards others. I kept this in mind and I felt a lovely warm feeling  radiating out from my heart towards all living beings. I stayed in this feeling for a while, familiarising myself with how it feels.

After a while I moved on to the next stage, which was to see what this feeling means in the light of the fact that all living beings are my mother. This was very easy to integrate into my feeling of warmth and friendliness: not only are all living beings the same – they are all my mother. I thought about this beautiful relationship and how completely mixed with love it is.

I have been reading a short book recently which describes the relationship between three people who truly love each other. In their relationship they are completely mixed with each other. There is no ‘me’ and ‘them’ – there is only ‘us’. In a normal relationship there is a hard core to ourselves which knocks and bumps against others when we have disagreements, or when we judge each other. But in their relationship it was like none of them have this hardness, and consequently they have no way of bumping or knocking each other. They laugh together, co-operate, tease each other good naturedly and freely express their pure love and admiration for each other’s good qualities.

I thought about how lovely it would be to have that relationship with my family and everyone else I come into contact with. How delightful and happy it would be simply to be with others!

Once again I thought of the phrase ‘Be the change you want to see’.

I want the softness of love all around me. I want to be in a relationship with everyone I know where we have a genuine love and tenderness for each other. How can I make this happen? By bringing my feeling of love, warmth and friendliness with me into my everyday life. By caring for others by thinking only good things about them. By ignoring their perceived faults and trying to identify and overcome my own. I wanted to bring the softness of this pure love into my whole life and into the lives of everyone around me. I felt completely filled with soft love and the wish to create this in my own life. I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation. It was very moving, and captured everything I am trying to do with my life.

Dedication

May all living beings learn to use their wisdom eyes to see the true nature of everyone around them. May they use Buddhadharma to bring the softness of love into their lives, and through the cherishing of others, may they spread joy and happiness across the world, quickly attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all.

May Geshe Kelsang live for a very long time and continue to give pure Buddhadharma to all living beings. May the tradition of Je Tsongkahapa flourish and bring good fortune to all living beings. May the Gurus, teachers and practitioners have very long lives full of good conditions. May all living beings open their hearts and receive the blessings of the Buddhas. May they find happiness and peace, and may the experience of samsara quickly come to an end.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will care for others by thinking only good things about them. I will ignore their faults and try instead to identify and overcome my own. Using my wisdom eyes, I will to bring the softness of this pure love into my whole life and into the lives of everyone around me.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate a very qualified feeling of warmth and friendliness towards all other living beings, and then to meditate on this feeling in the light of actions and their effects.

I began the meditation my thinking about how I adopt a mental posture towards people based on their appearance and what I already know about them. I am relaxed around some people whereas with others I am ‘on guard’ and more formal. It is like a feedback loop – the people I see as threatening will pick up on my frostiness and wonder what is behind it.

How complicated it all is – adopting a mental posture towards everyone individually, keeping it under review and changing it when people ‘change’. I remembered what Geshe Kelsang says in The New Meditation Handbook, that these appearances of other people (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) are just projections of my own mind, and have no real, objective truth. Instead of all this posturing, I should simply develop a warm and friendly attitude to all others. I imagined mixing my mind with Geshe Kelsang’s mind, asking him to share his equanimity with me. Immediately I felt a complete massive movement of my mind – instantly I felt a completely solid and permanent feeling of equanimity towards all living things. It was emphatic and immovable – completely different from my normal pathetic swings in ‘I like him, but I don’t like her’ nonsense. It felt gigantic and eternal, like a mountain, and I mixed my mind with this feeling for quite a while.

I then thought about what this means in light of actions and their effects. This meditation is the first in the Great Scope meditations, and Geshe Kelsang says that without this mind, the other minds of unconditional love, compassion and bodhichitta cannot grow. There is a cause and effect link there – if I develop equanimity, I will be able to develop more profound and happy minds. I increased my determination to keep equanimity as one of my default settings, and treat everyone I meet with genuine warmth and friendliness.

Dedication

May all living beings develop the happy mind of equanimity and begin the mental path to Buddhahood.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to check how I feel about people I meet and think about, and see if I can maintain a natural mind of equanimity.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop a warm and friendly feeling of equanimity for all living beings.

I began the meditation by thinking about how everyone I meet and think about seem to have their own inherent likeability. Some people are more intrinsically likeable than others. This impression seems so intuitively true that there is little point in debating it.

But these impressions are just that – impressions.  They are not confirmed by a more thorough examination. Some people I know seem very nice, but they are despised by others. Some people who I don’t get on with have very firm friendships with others who I like. What is going on? How can different people see the same individual as attractive and unattractive simultaneously? If the attractiveness or unattractiveness of a person were an inherent characteristic, everyone meeting them would have the exact same impression of them.

It can only mean one thing: that the impressions of the viewers are not inherently true. Our impressions of others are our own mental projections onto them – not their actual character or nature.

Given that we can prove our impressions of others are not accurate, it makes no sense to base our attitudes to others on these attitudes.

Instead we should develop a warm and friendly feeling towards all other living beings – especially people and animals. This attitude will lead us to create virtuous actions and have harmonious relationships with everyone, regardless of their false appearances.

I considered all these points and developed the wish to behave in a warm and friendly way to everyone I meet. I thought about some of the Secondary Downfalls of the Bodhisattva Vows, such as those warning us to avoid ‘not replying to others’, ‘not accepting invitations’ and ‘not accepting gifts’: ‘not apologising when we have the opportunity’, and ‘not accepting others’ apologies’. All these vows, commitments and other requirements help to generate and maintain our equanimity.

I developed the wish to practice equanimity by following all these requirements – recognising that they will set me free. I rested my mind on this wish to develop a warm and friendly attitude to everyone, and let my mind rest in that feeling.

Dedication

May all living beings put their feeling of equanimity into practice, and attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will practice my vows and commitments as purely as I can throughout the day, with a warm and friendly attitude to all living beings.

The purpose of this meditation is to control our unbalanced attitudes to other people, so that we can establish a good basic stability of mind, essential for later realisations.

I thought about Amanda Knox, who earlier today was set free after spending four years in an Italian jail for a crime it now seems she did not commit. How should I feel towards her? After spending four years feeling dislike for her (perceiving her as a convicted murderer), it seems very difficult to generate sympathy for her all of a sudden. But she did not commit the murders, so she has been the victim of a terrible injustice! She now deserves huge sympathy. Or shall I keep on disliking her – shall I conclude that the appeal Judges have been duped by her, and that she is really guilty? It may be easier to do that than to turn my engrained view of her on its head.

And how can I know the truth anyway, relying as I do on news reports?

I thought about this in meditation – how appearances are so deceptive, and how if I rely on mere appearances, my mind will be unstable. It will swing from like to dislike and back again depending on how people appear. This is no way to proceed. I need to develop a stable attitude to everyone, based on sound logical reasoning. I decided that I would develop a warm friendly feeling to everyone, since this is the most sensible and beneficial way of relating to others.

I transformed my mind into this feeling of warmth and friendliness to others, and stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings generate equanimity of mind towards others, and in so doing quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

No matter what people may or may not have done, I will keep a warm and friendly attitude to everyone, because their appearance can change at any time.

The purpose of this meditation is to free our mind from unbalanced attitudes to others.

I began the meditation by thinking about how delusions affect my mind. They destroy my happiness. If anger or attachment arise in my mind, I am filled with feelings of discontent. The appearance of others naturally stirs delusions in my mind. Some people appear attractive, and they stimulate attachment. Some people appear unattractive and they stimulate aversion. Others are neither and we feel indifference. All these feelings are incorrect and harmful.

Instead of letting them stimulate delusions, I should recognise that these appearances are merely projections of my own deluded mind, and are not indicative of the true nature of these people. Bearing this in mind, I should instead develop warm and friendly feelings towards everyone I meet, thereby allowing my mind to develop virtuous attitudes.

I pictured my friends, people who I have a difficult relationship with, and people who I hardly know, in front of me. I developed a warm and friendly feeling to them all. I let the feeling grow until it filled my mind. It felt warm and open. It also felt like I was protected: protected from the suffering caused by delusions based on appearances.

I stayed with this feeing for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings see past mere appearances, and develop a warm and friendly feeling to everyone they meet or think about. Through this attitude, may they quickly attain Enlightenment for the sake of all living beings.

Practise in the Meditation Break

I will keep a warm and friendly attitude to everyone I meet and think about today, and protect myself from delusions.

I began my meditation today by considering that the current unevenness of my mind will be a major obstacle to my making progress on the spiritual path.

At the moment, I develop unbalanced states of mind just by looking at things! When I see an attractive person, I naturally and immediately develop feelings of attachment. When I see an unattractive person, I naturally and immediately develop feelings of aversion. And when I see someone who is neither, I develop feelings of indifference.

I pictured an attractive woman, with a nice smile and smiling eyes, and noted how I immediately felt a friendly, positive feeling. Then I pictured an unkempt old man with a dew drop on the end of his nose, and noted that I felt differently towards this image – less friendly and accepting.

I remembered that normally these feelings seem reasonable, based as they are on other people, but what is their real validity? If I think about it, I can see that these feelings have no real validity. An attractive person may be hated by her ex-husband. An ugly person may be loved by his children, and someone who is neither may be the object of hatred or attachment by others. My view of them is not the one and only ‘true’ view.

So then, how should I relate to all these people if there is no universal feeling that everyone generates?

Clearly mere appearances are not a valid basis on which to develop my feelings towards others. In fact it does not take much to demonstrate that it is a pretty misleading approach which will cause many problems.

The solution was that I remembered that we are all suffering beings, trapped in the prison of samsara, and on that basis we are all the same. Given we are all the same, a natural response would be to generate a warm and friendly feeling, like people do in the midst of natural disasters, where strangers spontaneously help each other, regardless of their appearances.  They all ‘know’ each others’ predicament goes deeper than their outward appearance.

Instead of the uneven and invalid attitudes of attachment, hatred and indifference, I resolved to develop warm and friendly feelings to all living beings. I developed this feeling and let it fill my mind and body. It arose without difficulty on the basis of my contemplation.

I then stayed with the feeling, without doing any more thinking, for the rest of my meditation.  It was a beautiful, clear, warm, comfortable feeling – peaceful but active in an ‘energy under the surface’ way, if that makes any sense.

At the end of the meditation, I made a firm resolution to keep this feeling all day, and to bear it in mind when I meet and interact with others.

Modern Buddhism

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