Week 6 - Cultivating compassion. Meditating for the sake
of others, and as intercessory prayer. Mindfulness in daily life.
Compassion may be defined as "the feeling from another's sorrow or hardship
that leads to help; pity excited by another's distress or misfortunes;
sympathy -- syn. fellowship, mercy, condolence."
The "Sending and Taking" - A Meditation of utter compassion.
While we are all extremely competant at warding off and avoiding bad feelings
and experiences, while claiming and affirming those that we find good or
pleasant. This doesn't really help us with showing compassion to those
around us. The following exercise is a fairly simple, effective means
for cultivating compassion and fearlessness for the sake of others. However,
it is not really terribly pleasant.
The "sending and taking" practice is one in which we willingly receive
the suffering of others and send out healing, peace, happiness and deep
well being. As this form of meditation is continued with courage and an
open heart, the illusion of separateness fades away and our union with
all other beings becomes more realized. This is Tonglen, 'the sending
and taking', the form of prayer that the Dalai Lama has reported that he
practices for the sake of the Chinese who invaded Tibet and forced him
into exile. Similar approaches are found in both the Old and New Testaments,
and in classic Christian mystical tradition
it is known as 'reparation' or 'holy exchange'.
Start cultivating this practice by having a loved one as your intention,
then an acquaintance, then a stranger, then an enemy. Always remember to
pracitice compassion towards yourself throughout. You can not harm yourself
with this practice, as long as your intention is compassion, and you do
not keep any of it. However, if you are uneasy, begin your session by saying,
Sit quietly and mindfully for a few minutes.
Choose an intention: an individual, specific group, or all beings.
On each breath, inhale pain and suffering for the sake of your intention,
and exhale health and happiness.
For some people, a visualization is helpful: visualize breathing in a stream
of black, sooty smoke, and then breathe out warm, healing and a beautiful
Do not retain this pain, this darkness, but release it. You might
consider the soot as being utterly burned away by the candle flame that
is your inner light.
"May this meditation be for my highest good, and the highest good
of all involved."