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Lions Roar : September 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2010 60 if you don’t believe in many lifetimes, in just this life, you’ve had friends who’ve become enemies, and enemies who’ve become friends. You’ve been in good situations that have turned bad, and bad ones that have turned good. looking at the world this way helps support an attitude of equanimity by reducing attachment to relative notions of “me” and “you.” consider the kindness of others. If all beings have been your moth- er, they have all been kind to you at some point. Even the person who’s got your number has done something good for you— maybe just by passing the salt. So appreciate what others have done for you in great and small ways. Trying to see things in this more positive light breaks down the walls between yourself and others and liberates the happi- ness within. Repay the kindness of others. What generally hinders happiness are heavy emotions like anger, jealousy, and pride, which obscure the mind and bring us down. Rooting your activity in the inten- tion of repaying others’ kindness will take the energy out of all that emotional confusion. If you work with others on this basis you will experience your life in a completely different way because you’ll be acting on their behalf instead of buying into self-obsession. contemplate the delightful qualities of others. Rather than con- template the shortcomings of others, look at their good qualities and generate loving-kindness toward them. loving-kindness is associated with wanting others to enjoy happiness. contemplate compassion—the desire that everyone be free from suffering. Compassion doesn’t mean distancing yourself by tak- ing pity on others. Compassion is empathy based on understand- ing what suffering is. If you love and care for others, you don’t want them to have a hard time. Seeing the suffering of someone who is close to you heightens your sense of compassion because you feel that person’s suffering directly. You think, “This could happen to me.” commit yourself without question to following these instructions. When you wake up in the morning, aspire to be kind and compas- sionate and to take delight in all beings, with the knowledge that they have helped you. Before you go to sleep at night, imagine that even if you are the only person in the entire world practicing the cultivation of lasting happiness, you will not stop doing it. Contemplating the happiness of others is the basis of spiritual and worldly success. I’m defining “success” as having a fulfilled, meaningful, and permanently happy mind. If you help others, you will find the happiness you want. This is the secret they don’t tell you at school. Tonglen: Bad In, Good Out By pema chödrön In ORdER TO hAvE compassion for others, we have to have compassion for ourselves. In particular, to care about other peo- ple who are fearful, angry, jealous, overpowered by addictions of all kinds, arrogant, proud, miserly, selfish—you name it—means to not run from the pain of finding these things in ourselves. In fact, one’s whole attitude toward pain can change. Instead of fending it off and hiding from it, one can open one’s heart and allow oneself to feel that pain, feel it as something that will soften and purify us and make us far more loving and kind. The tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffer- ing—ours and that which is all around us—everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us, no matter how cruel or cold we might seem to be. We begin the practice by taking on the suffering of a person we know to be hurting and whom we wish to help. For instance, if you know of a child who is being hurt, you breathe in with the wish to take away all the pain and fear of that child. Then, as you breathe out, you send the child happiness, joy, or whatever would relieve their pain. This is the core of the practice: breath- ing in another’s pain so they can be well and have more space