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The purpose of this meditation is to equalise our cherishing of ourself with our cherishing of others, and then to meditate on this thought in the light of equanimity.
I began by calming my mind by listening to the noises around me, and noticing the gross noises, such as the cars driving past and the clatter of the IKEA shopping trolleys being wheeled away. As my mind settled I became aware of more subtle sounds – people talking and birds calling, and the sound of an aeroplane in the distance. I focused on these noises at the edge of my hearing, letting my attention rest on them. My mind seemed to float over them and span across them, very wide and calm like the surface of a flat ocean. After a while I moved into more formal breathing meditation, and kept focused on the breath until my mind was centred and still.
I was tempted to stay at this point because it was so pleasant, but I have a blog to write so I decided I’d better get a move on.
I began by thinking about how all living beings have been so kind to me in the past, and continue to be kind to me even now. I also thought about how we are all in the same situation – we are all suffering in the prison of samsara, struggling to avoid suffering and to attain happiness. We are all equal in this respect. Finally I thought about how there are so many other living beings suffering, whereas I am only one individual.
I thought about these points and gradually felt a wish to cherish others as much as I cherish myself. They are so kind, but they are all suffering, and there are so many of them. How can I work for my own happiness and ignore their suffering? At the very least I should work as hard for their happiness as I do my own.
I let my attention focus on this wish to cherish others as much as I cherish myself, and stayed with this feeling of directing my concern outwards as well as inwards.
After a while I thought about what this means in the light of equanimity. Equanimity is the feeling of warmth and friendliness we can develop towards others following the recognition that their normal appearances (of being pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) are wrong, and in fact just our own mistaken projections.
There was a good fit between the two thoughts – equanimity and equalising self and others. With a warm and friendly feeling towards others, it is easy to work for their happiness. With this warm and friendly feeling I refocused my mind on the feeling of equalising myself and others, and stayed with it for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop equanimity, and become enlightened for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Mediation Break
I will try to keep in mind how everyone is just the same as me, and how I should work for their happiness just as I work for my own.
The purpose of this meditation is to generate a feeling of warmth and friendliness to all other living beings, and then to meditate on this feeling in lifht of the sufferings of the lower realms.
I began by thinking about a couple of words that caught my eye in the explanation of this meditation given by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in the book The New Meditation Handbook. In the context of how others appear to us (attractive, unattractive or indifferent) he says “There is no certainty”.
I thought about this statement, which has not really stood out to me before. Normally we are so certain of things. We are certain that such and such is bad, or such and such is really nice. We are certain and we act accordingly. But these appearances are not reliable, because we know that others have different opinions of acquaintances we share. Although we are certain, there is no certainty. I felt like the people around me were actually existing behind the appearances I see. I developed a wish to treat everyone with friendliness and warmth.
How simple life would be – how stable my mind would be. When I meet or think about others, my mind would be filled with warmth and friendliness – always the same.
I developed a warm and friendly feeling which filled my mind. It was lovely.
I then thought about this feeling in the context of the sufferings of the lower realms. The sufferings of the lower realms are all created by me negative karma, which in turn is created by my actions towards other living beings. Therefore if I can always remain warm and friendly towards other living beings, I will be able to avoid creating negative karma and avoid creating more suffering for myself. I felt very happy that this lovely mind will protect me from suffering, and I returned to the feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings be friendly and warm, and enjoy all the benefits this brings so that they become Buddhas for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will stay warm and friendly, which is quite a challenge at this time of year. How ironic that at the ‘happiest’ time of the year, when we are in the company of our own family, our delusions can be at their strongest…
The purpose of this meditation is to develop a warm and friendly feeling towards all living beings, and then to view this feeling in the context of our precious human life.
I began the meditation by remembering that although people may appear to me to be pleasant, unpleasant or neither one not the other, these appearances are completely untrustworthy. I know people who I like, but are disliked by others. Which of us is right? One thing is for sure: the appearances of this person are not reliable, otherwise we would both perceive the person in the same way.
Geshe-la says that these appearances are deceptive, and that we should put them to one side and develop a warm and friendly feeling towards all living beings. I can see that this will be very helpful to myself and others – the best possible attitude to adopt.
It is the first step towards developing the supreme motivation of Bodhichitta, and does not need to be abandoned – just built upon. When I finally attain spontaneous Bodhichitta, I will recognise that it is built on the foundation of equanimity.
I thought deeply about the wish to develop equanimity, and I let the feeling of warmth and friendliness develop in my mind until it encompassed the whole world. I remained on this object for a while.
Then I took a mental step back from the object and asked, what additional meaning does my precious human life give to this feeling? I quickly realised that this feeling is only possible because of my precious human life. I felt the feeling grow and expand to encompass my whole lifespan – I felt equanimity for all living beings in the universe for the whole of my lifespan. I kept focused on this vast and beautiful feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop equanimity, and on this solid foundation build the city of enlightenment.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will hold a strong feeling of equanimity towards all living beings until my next meditation, and await the day when I can keep this mind purely all the time.
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.