Friday, March 18, 2011

The Middling Stages of Meditation - Part 2

Meditating on Compassion

Before beginning meditation proper one can prepare oneself by cultivating suitable mental states. Suitable states are those which bring calm and peace to the mind and help one to achieve a balanced stated. So the instruction to meditate o compassion is given. Here the word “meditate” should be understood more like “contemplate” or to “think about”. How to do it:

The Outset

Developing Equanimity

Begin the practice by meditating on equanimity. Try to actualize impartiality towards all sentient beings by eliminating attachment and hatred. […] Begin the meditation on equanimity by thinking of a neutral person and then consider people who are friends and foes. After the mind has develop equanimity towards all sentient beings meditate on loving-kindness. Moisten the mental continuum with the water of loving-kindness and prepare it as you would a piece of fertile ground. When the seed of compassion is planted in such a mind, germination will be swift, proper and complete. Once you have irrigated the mind stream with loving-kindness, meditate on compassion”.

The idea here is to understand how all sentient being are looking forward to be happy and trying to avoid suffering. The feeling of equanimity here is developed when one thinks deeply on how in this beginningless cycle of existence, there is not one sentient being who has not been one’s friend or relative hundreds of times. If one takes this perspective there is no ground for being attached to some and hating others. So one thinks:
I shall develop a mind of equanimity towards all sentient beings”.

The compassionate mind has the nature of wishing all suffering beings to be free from suffering, so with the base of an equanimous mind one is advised to meditate on compassion for all sentient beings which experience all types of pains and sufferings. Animals suffer from hunger and thirst and experience immense physical suffering: they eat each other, become angry, and are hurt and killed. The human beings too experience various types of suffering:

Not being able to find what they want, they are resentful and harm each other. They suffer the pain of losing the beautiful things they want and confronting the ugly things they do not want, as well as pain of poverty. There are those whose minds are bound by various fetters of disturbing emotions like craving desire. Others are in turmoil with different types of wrong views. These are all cause of misery, therefore they are only in intense pain like being on a precipice. […] Pervasive misery is what arises under the power of causes characterized by actions and disturbing emotions. It has the nature and characteristics of momentary disintegration and pervades all wandering beings”.

The advice is that whether you are engaged in one-pointed meditation or pursuing your ordinary activities, meditate on compassion at all times, focusing on all sentient beings and wishing that they all be free from suffering.

Developing Loving-kindness

Begin by meditating on your friends and relatives. Recognize how they experience the various sufferings that have been explained. Then having seen all sentient beings as equals with no difference between them, you should meditate on sentient beings to whom you are indifferent. When the compassion your feel towards them is the same as you feel towards your friends and relatives, meditate on compassion for all sentient beings throughout the ten directions of the universe”.

Meditation on loving-kindness begins with friends and people you are fond of. It has the nature of wishing that they meet with happiness. Gradually extend the meditation to include strangers and even your enimies. Habituating yourself with compassion you will gradually generate a spontaneous with to liberate all sentient beings. Therefore, having familiarized yourself with compassion as the basis, meditate on the awakening mind of bodhichitta”.

This is getting interesting, isn't it? We shall continue in the next post.
Have a try with this technique and then let me know your comments, please.


1 comment:

  1. Daniel, really well explained. I have experienced this and can truly tell you that it does become a habit to even see our so called "enemies" in the light of compassion...
    Thank you.