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The purpose of this meditation is to develop a strong appreciation of the kindness that all living beings have shown to us, and then to meditate on this kindness in the light of equanimity.
I began by doing breathing meditation until I had my mind under some sort of control, and then I moved on to the main object of meditation.
I thought about how everything I have and know really comes from the kindness of others. In his wonderful book ‘Eight Steps to Happiness‘ Geshe Kelsang describes perfectly how this is true. He says ‘If we had to give everything back that others had given us, we would be left with nothing’.
I thought about this statement carefully. My house is owned by the bank. The money I used to put a deposit on it was given to me by my employer. I worked for the money, but I used skills that were given to me by others. I was smart enough to learn the skills and use them, but my ability to learn comes from my body and mind of this life. My body came from my parents, and my mind has been shaped by my interactions with others since beginningless time. Any good qualities of my mind are the karmic result of my past virtuous actions towards others, inspired by Buddha’s blessings.
Everything I have, right down to my body and mind, all depend on the kindness of others.
My spiritual journey is entirely dependent on others. My mind teacher, Geshe Kelsang and also everyone involved in the printing and editing of his Dharma books.
I found that I could not identify one single thing I have which did not depend on others in one way or another. I am not independent at all – I am completely dependent on others. I mean – I didn’t make this laptop I am writing on, did I?
I thought about all these people and felt a deep gratitude towards them. It felt very warm and wholesome – how kind they are! I stayed with this feeling of gratitude for a while until it was time to move on.
I then thought about what this means in the light of equanimity. Recognising the kindness of others is a method of seeing clearly my true relationship with others. Normally I have the mistaken view that others have very little to do with me and my happiness. However there is no happiness without others. In the same way, equanimity trains me to recognise my mistaken projections which give an incorrect impression of others. Both these thoughts are about recognising the true nature of others.
I brought this across into my meditation on the feeling of gratitude, and stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings pause and remember the kindness of others, and in doing so swiftly become Buddhas for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will look at everything I make use of, and remember the kindness of others in providing it to me.
The purpose of this meditation is to deepen our affectionate love further by remembering the kindness of all our mothers, and then reflecting on this kindness in the context of our precious human life.
I began by focusing on how my spiritual development is entirely dependent on the kindness of others. My kind mother supported me in my life choices, and they have led me to this point in my life, where I have a spiritual practice and great hope for the future. Had it not been for my mother, I would not be here today.
I let a strong feeling of appreciation and love grow in my heart towards her.
Then I thought about all the other mother beings in the world, and also about my previous meditations were I recognised that their appearances are deceptive. They appear to be completely separate from me, but in fact they are still my kind mothers. They are still helping me by acting as the objects of my practice – I can practice kindness, patience, giving and so forth towards them. Without them I would have no opportunity to do this, so they are incredibly kind. They are still giving me a precious gift, just as they did when they were my mother!
I focused on this feeling of love for a while, and then asked myself: “What does this mean in the context of my precious human life?”. The presence of other living beings towards whom I can practice Dharma is a facet of my precious human life. It is an incredibly important facet because without them I would have no practical practice – just theory. I can create positive imprints continually by remembering their kindness, and this opportunity is completely due to my precious human life – rare and precious. I therefore recognised that although there appear to be many of them, all living beings are incredibly rare and precious. My feeling of love intensified, and I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop and perfect their affectionate love for others, and thereby attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will remember that despite appearances, all living beings are my mother, and that just by being in my life, they give me the most precious gift – the ability to practice holy Dharma towards them.
Note- I have just Googled ‘precious gift’ to get an image for this post, only to find that Google thinks a precious gift is mostly handbags and hair straighteners!! Kadampas have a very different idea of what a precious gift is!
The purpose of this meditation is to create the mental impression of completely abandoning self-cherishing, and instead cherish only others. By make a strong impression on our minds in the meditation session, we will find it easier to do the same in the meditation break.
I began the meditation by reviewing the conclusions of the previous two meditations. Firstly, that self-cherishing prevents me from forming intimate relationships with others, because my self-cherishing mind considers my wishes to be supremely important and neglects the wishes of others – it puts the two at odds. Secondly, the mind that cherishes others produces the opportunity to be intimate with others, because there is no self cherishing causing a gap between us.
I considered these points for a while. It seemed to me that there was only one conclusion to reach – that I need to completely abandon self cherishing and cherish only others. If I were to do this, then I would care about others deeply. I would establish what their wishes were, and I would work to help them achieve their wishes. And because this is my wish, then when their wishes are fulfilled, so will mine. So through my work there will be twice the happiness! I thought about this doubling of happiness, through cherishing others.
I thought about how my life would become truly meaningful, and how I can help people, and make myself happy. I felt a very warm and content feeling. Although I was just thinking about helping one other person, it naturally extended to all living beings – the ones I can help in this life and the ones I will be able to help when I am a Buddha. I let the feeling of warmth and happiness grow until it filled my mind, always remembering that it represented abandoning self-cherishing, and cherishing others exclusively.
May all living beings recognise that true happiness comes from cherishing others, whereas all the suffering in the world arises from self-cherishing, and through this become enlightened beings.
Practice in the meditation break
My mind is mixed with self-cherishing all the time, but I will try to remain vigilant for signs of it influencing me, and where I can, I will abandon it by reversing its direction, and cherishing others instead.
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.