Lojong #7

#7 Sending and Taking Should Be Practiced Alternately. These Two Should Ride the Breath.

Pema Chodron:
It's useful to think of tonglen practice in four stages:
1) Flashing openness.
2) Working with the texture, breathing in dark, heavy, and hot and breathing out white, light and cool.
3) Working with relieving a specific, heartfelt instance of suffering.
4) Extending that wish to help everyone.

The first stage is flashing openness, or flashing absolute bodhicitta. The slogan "Rest in the nature of ALAYA, the essence" goes along with this flash of openness, which is done very quickly. there is some sort of natural flash of silence and space. It's a very simple thing.

The second stage is working with the texture. You visualize breathing in dark, heavy and hot and breathing out white, light and cool. The idea is that you are always breathing in the same thing: you are essentially breathing in the cause of suffering, the origin of suffering, which is fixation, the tendency to hold on the ego with a vengeance.

The third stage is working with a specific heartfelt object of suffering. You breathe in the pain of a specific person or animal that you wish to help. You breathe out to that person spaciousness or kindness or a good meal or a cup of coffee - whatever you feel would lighten their load. You can do this for anyone: the homeless mother that you pass on the street, your suicidal uncle, or yourself and the pain you are feeling at that very moment. The main point is that the suffering should be real, totally untheoretical. It should be heartfelt, tangible, honest, and vivid.

The fourth stage extends this wish to relieve suffering much further. You start with this homeless person and then extend out to all those who are suffering just as she is, or to all those who are suicidal like your uncle or to all those who are feeling the jealousy or addiction or contempt you are feeling. You use specific instances of misery and pain as a stepping stone for understanding the universal suffering of people and animals everywhere. Simultaneously, you send out spaciousness or cheerfulness or a bunch of flowers, whatever would be healing, to your uncle and all the others. What you feel for one person, you can extend to all people.

You can bring all of your unfinished karmic business right into the practice. In fact, you should invite it in. Suppose that you are involved in a horrific relationship: every time you think of a particular person you get furious. That is very useful for tonglen! Or perhaps you feel depressed. It was all you could do to get out of bed today. You're so depressed that you want to stay in bed for the rest of your life: you have considered hiding under the bed. That is very useful for tonglen practice.

If you missed the explanation of the lojong sayings and tonglen meditation, click here.

2 comments:

Benny said...

Thank you Linus. You've has actually given me quite a lot to think about...

Benny said...

Just re-reading... ;-)

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