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Buddhism

Step 8: We embody compassion for all sentient beings.

Principle: Love

In Cunda Kammaraputta Sutta the Buddha explains that mental or intentional purity is threefold: non-greed, non-ill-will and non-delusion. Regarding the manifestation of non-ill-will the discourse describes a virtuous person as: He bears no ill will and is not corrupt in the resolves of his heart. He thinks, 'May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!' Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997).

Text or Verse

In safety and in bliss may all creatures be of blissful heart.
Whatever breathing beings there may be,
No matter whether they are frail or firm,
With none excepted, be they long or big or middle-sized, or be they short or small,
Or thick, as well as those seen or unseen,
Or whether they are far or near,
Existing or yet seeking to exist, may all creatures be of a blissful heart.
Let no one work another one’s undoing,
Or even slight him at all anywhere;
And never let them wish each other ill,
Through provocation or resentful thought.
Metta Sutta

If you do not take care of one another,
who else will do so?
The Buddha

Practice

Metta in Pali and Maitri in Sanskrit are the practices of unconditional and unattached loving-kindness often practiced by holding a strong intention for the happiness of all human beings. Tonglen is the practice of taking in others’ suffering and giving out love or blessings.

Tonglen practice: begin by placing yourself in a comfortable position. See yourself as tapping into a great energy larger than yourself. Bring to mind someone who is suffering. Feel their presence with you, using whatever sensory information you have to make the connection. Feel the heaviness of their suffering in your body. Experience their suffering as a thick, tangible darkness. Breathe this darkness into your body with thoughts and feelings of compassion. Breathe calmly and slowly and with each breath embrace this suffering with your own heart. See yourself as an instrument of the universal energy of compassion. Allow this energy to fill your heart. Experience both the power and the Light of this universal energy. Extend this light to all who suffer and need comfort. Breathe in this collective suffering and breathe out one single, deep, loving breath. When you are ready return your attention to yourself and to your breathing. Slowly become aware of the space around you.

Resources

Mapping the Dharma: A Concise Guide to the Middle Way of the Buddha (go to Links menu to connect to the web site)

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