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Lions Roar : May 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN M Ay 2009 18 To have courage is to remember that we can gradually change our mind with quite a simple technique. If we can stop thinking constantly about ourselves, we’ll be free to ask, “What about oth- ers? What do they need?” With courage, we think about what we are willing to give be- fore looking at how much we are going to get. What we can always give is compassion. I’ve noticed that when I am worried about something, I can flip my attitude by generating a mind of compassion, thinking about others instead of giving in to my own frustration. In doing this, I am offering myself compassion as well. Flipping our thoughts toward people in need relaxes the mind, which allows delight to arise. The mind becomes light, because it is no longer burdened by the concept of “me.” That’s why we have a nimble feeling when we do something nice for someone else, like fixing dinner for a friend. Likewise, if someone does something nice for us, we remember it all day. We recognize the courage of compassion when we see it. When I think about the lightness that comes from acting with compassion, I often recall my teachers. as they grow older, they become more and more cheerful. If you ask them, “how do you manage to have that level of happiness?” they reply that it comes from turning the mind toward others. The sense of delight is a reflection of the power of compassion. What’s astonishing is that we never quite believe that happiness is so available. We want to think some more about ourselves, and others maybe later. Turning the mind toward others might sound like a lot of work, but it requires much more effort and energy to think about our- selves. That’s truly high maintenance. When we think only about ourselves, we get serious, uptight, and heavy. Fewer things make us happy, and we become very territorial about the ones that do. Suffering and pain arise because we separate ourselves from other beings. When we meditate on compassion, we begin to re- alize that we aren’t separated from others at all: they are having the same experiences that we are, because all beings want happi- ness and we wish for them to have it. It is a very simple practice, but it is also a transforming practice, because as we continue, the conceptual boundary between “us” and “them” begins to melt. That gives us more energy to think about the needs of others, develop kind thoughts and intentions, and lead our life based on those principles. The thought of helping others is compassion, knowing how to do it is wisdom, and doing something about it is courage. no matter who we are—practitioners of meditation or not—we all want a level of happiness and contentment. What is the cause of Flipping our thoughts toward people in need relaxes the mind, which allows delight to arise. That’s why we have a nimble feeling when we do something nice for someone else. Transforming Stress into Well-being