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Lions Roar : July 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2008 20 lose the feeling, we return to the words. Learning to generate compassion is the most effective way to put our medita- tion into action, but it isn’t easy. We often become impatient: we want to go directly from the word to the meaning. When we don’t reach the meaning quickly, we drop the practice. But we need to keep pon- dering the word because if we hang out with the concept long enough, we will actually feel compassion. This is called skillful means, because in transform- ing a conceptual thought into feeling, we create a skillful way of orienting our lives. When we engage in compassion, our mind becomes lighter and happier, which benefits others. When someone asked Shantideva, one of the great teachers of this technique, “Isn’t compassion meditation a little dif- ficult?” he answered, “The small amount of difficulty has such astronomical ben- efit that it is worth its weight in gold.” In shifting our attitude with the thought “May others not suffer,” we are develop- ing awareness of our own actions and our own suffering, as well as the suffering of other beings. That is how compassion practice gives us nimbleness of mind. It increases our understanding of basic reality. We call that understanding prajna, a Sanskrit word meaning “best knowledge.” What’s the best thing to know about others? They want to be happy and they don’t want to suffer. There are many variations of what would make them happy, but ultimately, the best way for them to be happy is to be in a state of wisdom and freedom. When we have a person in mind and we’re wishing that he not suffer, emotions come up, because generally speaking we divide the world between friends and en- emies, between those we like and those we do not like. As our practice expands in concentric circles from those we care about to the ones toward whom we feel neutral, and then to those toward whom we feel animosity, our emotions become less pleasant. The stronger our prajna is, the more we can overcome our own emotional obstacles to understand what kind of difficulty even our enemies are Do you want leading edge skills to negotiate the challenges you face? Do you want world-class tools to transform conflict? Choose from Three Professional Trainings: Negotiation Build your skills by exploring the interplay between negotiation and teachings of the ancient wisdom traditions. Mediation Harness the power of mediation to help people stuck in conflict to move from impasse to breakthrough. Communication Learn tools for masterful conversations by blending timeless wisdom about right speech with modern best practices for excellence in communication. Register now while spaces last at www.eOmega.org or call 800-944-1001 “A perfect combination of professional skills and a personal journey. Truly exceptional.” – 2007 Participant Global Negotiation Insight Institute October 12-17, 2008 Hosted by Omega Institute, Rhinebeck New York JULY 18-39.indd 20 JULY 18-39.indd 20 4/25/08 11:56:42 AM 4/25/08 11:56:42 AM