our fifth week we introduce Karuna Meditation, the cultivation of
compassion, and begin to explore one of the central teachings of the
tradition: the Four Noble Truths.
Saturday - Karuna: Compassion Meditation
1. Karuna: Compassion
“I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with compassion,
Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.
So above and below, around and everywhere, and to all as if to myself.
I will abide pervading the entire world with compassion,
Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”
have been working with the first of the brahmavihāra meditations, the
mettā bhāvanā (Development of Lovingkindness). We now begin to look at
the second of these Divine Abodes - karunā, or compassion.
world suffers. But most people have their eyes and ears closed. They do
not see the unbroken stream of tears flowing through life; they do not
hear the cry of distress continually pervading the world. Their own
little grief or joy bars their sight, deafens their ears. Bound by
selfishness, their hearts turn stiff and narrow. Being stiff and narrow,
how should they be able to strive for any higher goal, to realize that
only release from selfish craving will effect their own freedom from
- Nyanaponika Thera
we work to develop the brahmavihāras it is important that we note the
distinctive nature of each. It is comparatively rare these days for
meditators to be introduced to all four brahmavihāra meditations, and
this leads to an unfortunate tendency to merge compassion and
lovingkindness into a single entity. It is, however, important that we
learn the distinctive nature of these different mental states so that we
can work with them effectively.
means quite literally to feel with someone. In this particular
meditation we will be looking at the suffering that both others and we
experience, and develop the ability to open our hearts and empathise
totally with that experience.
will not be looking to pity those that suffer. Pity is often described
as the near enemy of compassion and can easily be mistaken for it. Pity
arises when we feel sorry for someone.
arises when we feel sorry with someone. It is the actual nature of
their suffering that we take onboard and feel with all our heart;
combined with a heartfelt wish that the person will be free from
our experience of karuna bhāvanā becomes more extensive we will begin
to see the common bond between us all. All our lives are subject to
unsatisfactoriness; we all experience dis-ease and suffering. This
meditation is another strong practice that aims at opening our hearts to
this commonality of experience. It is a form of real open-heart surgery
which can begin to transform our relationships and our motivation.
people find this form of meditation particularly challenging at the
beginning, some may even find it depressing. All of us will find that
the energy is quite different to that we have experienced in mettā
bhāvanā. On occasion we may feel quite down after a session but this
will vary over time as we come to see the true nature of the experience.
Initially if we feel low after a session it can be quite useful to add a
short period of lovingkindness meditation at the end (and particularly
to concentrate on radiating mettā to oneself). Don’t however mix
lovingkindness meditation into the sections of the compassion
meditation. Appreciate their distinctiveness and keep them separate.
up your meditation session as before. Your posture should be firm and
your spine erect. Gently close your eyes and sit for a few moments
watching the breath. We will again be working through different sections
of the technique. Ensure that your attention is wholly focused on each
section and that you devote equal time to each. As distractions occur
gently acknowledge them and then return to the object of the meditation.
Remember that in each section we are empathising with the beings who
suffer, not pitying them. During the meditation we are feeling the
reality of their circumstances and the commonality of suffering. Aware
of the suffering, we wish to lift the burden of it.
Compassion For Those In Need
your attention to focus on those who suffer in this world. Feel with
them. Don’t have pity for them. Empathise with their suffering.
Aware of the suffering of …
Those who suffer from the effects of poverty, famine and disease.
People in war-torn countries or without liberty.
The homeless and the addicted.
People racked with grief and loss, filled with despair.
Those with mental or physical illness.
Animals that are malnourished and ill-treated.
Take on that suffering. See it as it is. Feel it.
Compassion For Those Who Do Wrong Or Are Hostile To Others
Aware of the suffering of…
Those who behave unskilfully and with malice.
Those driven by anger and resentment.
People who crave power by any means.
Those who choose to inflict pain on others.
Those who are motivated by greed and selfishness.
actions are not the product of a peaceful mind. They are suffering and
will suffer. Take on that suffering. Understand it. Feel it with them.
Remain with their present situation. Experience the suffering they feel
now. Can you feel it unconditionally? Without reservation? Can you hope
for their release from suffering?
Aware of the suffering of…
People who choose to act with hostility to others.
People who direct their anger and resentment at us.
Those who are cynical and dismissive of our actions.
are not happy people. Feel their unhappiness. Experience the burden
that their lack of peace, their lack of warmth, causes them. Empathise
with what lies at the root of their hostility. They suffer too.
Compassion For Those Who Are Neutral
Aware of the suffering of…
Those about whom we know little.
People who we have treated as functionaries, without consideration.
People who have neither brought us joy nor pain.
Those whose opinions and views we do not consider.
sentient beings they too are subject to suffering. Because we have not
considered or are unaware of the complexity of their lives, we may have
ignored their suffering. We may, to some extent, have dismissed their
very humanity. Can we empathise with their suffering now? Their lives
too are subject to sadness, worry, and frustration. They too will face
the loss of their loved ones and experience all the other vicissitudes
of life. Can we feel with them?
Compassion For Those Who Are Dear To Us
Aware of the suffering of…
Our families and friends.
The people about whom we care deeply.
people our friends and family suffer too. Can we feel their suffering?
Can we take it on? Sometimes we may have been unaware of the detail of
the suffering of those dear to us, but we must all be aware of the
suffering that illness, death and uncertainty can bring to those about
whom we care deeply. Can we feel the grief, the loneliness, the worry,
the fear? Can we do this without reservation?
Reflecting on Compassion For Ourselves
suffer too. Sometimes we may choose to mask that suffering to the
outside world and ourselves. See the suffering, the unsatisfactoriness
that lies deep within. Feel the hurt and anger that resides there.
Accept it as part of our make-up. We have felt the common suffering of
other beings. We are not exempt from this suffering. Witness its
reality; bring heartfelt awareness to the possibility of overcoming it.
the end of the session sit for a few moments and come back to the
breath. This form of meditation can be very taxing and you may feel that
you would like to add a short mettā bhāvanā section before ending. Show
yourself some kindness and gentleness.
Audio Player - Compassion Meditation
Guided meditation files are intended to illustrate how to structure your
own sittings. Once you are familiar with the format you should try to
meditate without listening to these audio files.
Karuna - Compassion Meditation
Last modified: Saturday, 29 September 2018, 3:56 PM
Contemplation - Day 29
evil one has done,
illumines the world
the moon free of cloud.
is the world;
birds escaping a net,
who see are blissful.
fly the path of the sun.
fly through space.
Mara and his host,
wise flee the world.
is no evil that cannot be done
the liar who has violated one precept
is indifferent to the world beyond.
miserly do not go to heavenly realms;
certainly, do not value generosity.
wise one rejoices in giving,
by that act is happy hereafter.
than reigning over the earth,
than going to heaven,
sovereignty over the universe;
fruits of Stream-entry excel all of these.
Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 3:46 PM
Sunday - Empathy not Pity
1. Empathy not Pity
is not the same as pity, which can have a rather paternalistic flavour -
a sort of looking down on “those poor unfortunate people”. That
attitude tends to have a distancing effect. Whilst we genuinely feel
sorry for them, the fact of seeing them as separate and different
prevents our wholehearted engagement with them. Pity has a sort of
hopeless and despairing quality about it - or at best resignation. It is
a wringing of the hands; a more fortunate outsider looking in on
another’s situation. Often this may occur if there is a subconscious
denial of how we too suffer. Compassion is full engagement with the
reality of the situation and can perhaps be thought of as a
communication rather than a one-sided transaction. It relies on there
being a total honesty; an empathy that arises from the recognition that
none of us are so very different. The form of suffering,
unsatisfactoriness, dis-ease varies for each of us but dukkha is
universal and this common experience, once recognised, permits empathy
is empathy with the person who is suffering and a wish that they be
free from it - a deep understanding of their experience and an ability
to share in it with them. When we talk about taking on the suffering it
is not in the sense of unburdening the other person - it is a direct
connection that we feel to that person’s plight. It is very important
that we can get closer to the experience of others: in daily life we are
constantly faced with images of suffering people, whether it be in news
programmes or elsewhere, and we build up barriers to it. The practice
of karuna bhāvanā opens our heart to the connections that we have with
all other beings; it is part of a training that permits wholehearted
engagement and a realisation that we are not separate and cannot close
ourselves off - because that disengagement is also a volitional act that
has unwholesome consequences.
one is expected to be able to fully empathize with every other being
from day one. The full realisation of karunā will take sustained work
over a number of years. We have perfected karunā only when it is
inconceivable to us that we would treat any other being in ways that are
not wholly compassionate, in any circumstance.
often, before coming to a meditation practice, people have faced
tremendously difficult experiences in their lives. They deal with them
in the best way that they can. Perhaps they have found that the only way
to cope was to distance themselves from the source of suffering (or
sometimes from people afflicted by it). Some people feel very guilty
about this; but guilt is not usually a useful response as it is backward
looking and has a tendency to debilitate. Others rationalise that
theirs was the best way of handling an extreme situation at the time…
and they may well be right given that most of us are equipped with
partial understanding and inadequate resources. That was then, and this
is now: when we begin to do spiritual work it is essential that we do
not try to lock our frames of reference in the vice of past experience.
If we have confidence that it is possible to develop positive qualities,
to learn skills and acquire insight - and surely that is why most of us
are treading this path - then we must accept that our response to any
new situation needs to be determined by the best our current levels of
understanding can offer rather than slavishly applying an old and
are not fixed in time; we change, we develop, we grow. Too often people
see anicca (impermanence) as some sort of threat, but it is also a
glorious opportunity. It permits change; it ensures that no two
experiences are exactly alike. The cultivation of the qualities of calm
and insight, through meditation, can ensure we become equipped with
optimal skills and the understanding necessary to handle all of the
situations we will face. In life we are constantly presented with
changing circumstances based, amongst other things, on the outcome of
our intentional acts. Meditation is one way of developing preparedness
for our future commission of only skilful acts of body, speech and mind -
and for pertinent and positive responses to all situations as they
ability to feel compassion is wholly positive. It does not arise from,
and should not engender, a sense of hopelessness. In the context in
which we are working it is simply recognition of the fact of suffering
and an empathy with the experience of the being that suffers. It is an
acknowledgement and connection with the reality of the situation (rather
than a belief that our action on the cushion can improve it). Until we
can empathize with the plight of our fellow beings our ability to act in
the interest of all, including ourselves is impaired. As we develop
compassion, by witnessing and associating ourselves with the reality of
suffering, an awareness of the most effective response to it will arise.
The way of meditation does not preclude us from engaging in concrete
acts to help others; indeed many will find that their inclination to do
so will become stronger. What it does do, however, is heighten our
sensitivity to the experience of suffering that all beings face and
helps to ensure that our responses are determined on the basis of
reality rather than partiality.
one way is to see this way of working is as a normative or corrective
process. Some people will find this manifests in the gradual lowering of
barriers that have been erected over many years and which have resulted
in a hardened attitude to the plight of others. For another group of
meditators it will be more a question of a change of perspective to
ensure that responses are fully felt but proportionate to the situations
encountered. If we are prey to swings of overwhelming, passionate,
emotion then our view is occluded and our ability to function with
concerned skill in the best interest of others and ourselves will be
impaired. We need to care, to feel and to consider; but this should not
result in us becoming debilitated by the magnitude of the pain and
suffering that others experience. As we begin karunā practice, the
outpouring of emotion may sometimes be disproportionate to that which
the situation warrants - and if we are not wary this can sometimes tip
over into self-centred indulgence rather than be indicative of our
empathy with the sufferer. It seems odd that at times we might choose to
gravitate towards the experience of misery or pain but it is actually
fairly common: one only has to consider how so many people are overly
self-critical and live life despairing of ever getting anything right.
specific action is required to balance the areas of strength and
weakness; the practice itself will, over time, regulate our responses so
that they are wholly caring and correspond precisely to the needs and
experience of those who suffer. This practice is complemented by work on
the other brahmavihāra: they work in harmony to ensure that we do not
become burdened by the imbalances of disposition most of us exhibit in
one-way or another. If one of the techniques is proving draining it can
be useful to spend some time with another complementary practice. Make
sure that you do not elide practices - it is important that the
different qualities remain distinctive - but feel free to add, for
example, a session of muditā bhāvanā (appreciative joy) to the end of a
karunā session if you find this moderates the drained quality with which
you currently emerge from a session. It may also be useful at times to
vary the order in which the sections are approached.
Contemplation - Day 30
can one tempt
victory cannot be overthrown;
no adversaries can follow?
can one tempt
wise, intent on meditation,
in the peace of renunciation -
mindful perfect Buddhas
the gods hold dear.
human birth is rare,
is mortal life.
it is to hear the Dhamma.
is the appearance of Buddhas.
cease from evil, to cultivate good,
cleanse one’s own mind:
is the teaching
patience is the supreme austerity.
is supreme, say the Buddhas.
who harms another is no contemplative;
others, no renunciate is he .
Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 3:49 PM
Monday - Recognition, Response, Capacity
1. Recognition,Response, Capacity
Recognition and Response
we begin to access karunā there may initially be a reliance on images
and scenes we have not directly experienced. This does not matter too
much because it is the feeling that is evoked which is important.
Cultivating compassion will involve feeling with those at a distance as
well as with those with whom we are more intimate. It can evoke fairly
dramatic feelings. Perhaps sometimes we may need to step back a little
from them and return to mettā practice for a while. In time though we
will be able to accept them fully for what they are. As our compassion
develops we will avoid the pitfalls of self-pity and helplessness and
gain a true understanding of our ability to act. Our motivation will be
informed by our greater sensitivity, empathy and also a finely tuned
sense of proportion.
effectiveness of these practices is not dependent on any reciprocal act
or intent from those on whom we focus. Remember that the work we are
doing is to cultivate our own positive mental states - we are not trying
to effect change in anyone else. On a practical level, as our attitudes
change for the better, we will find that many of our daily interactions
are more harmonious than they would otherwise be. This is not because
the other person has changed; but that our approach to the world has
become informed by our experience and often this is perceptible to the
the practice slowly and gently for now, remembering that there is value
in having the maturity to feel able to utilise mettā instead of karunā
at particular times if the emotions evoked require that. All meditation
is a gradual training and there is never a need to rush at new
techniques. Move forward with new techniques gently and allow yourself
to exercise choice in when to utilise one method over another. It is my
hope that participants will acquire the strength to make such decisions
about their own practice. Recognising the balancing effect of the
different techniques is a skill that will sustain a lifetime’s effective
we live deliberately we can’t help but notice the enormity of the
problems afflicting the world and its inhabitants. Sometimes it seems
that everywhere we look there is suffering and woe and we begin to
despair that the scale of the task of even reducing the amount of
suffering a little bit is simply beyond us.
acknowledgement of the pervasive nature of suffering in all its guises
is at the core of the Buddhist path. It is only when we begin to accept
that suffering underpins the lives of all conditioned beings that we are
in any sort of position to begin the second part of the process:
working for relief from all suffering. Often people misunderstand what
the Buddha taught. They see Buddhism as essentially pessimistic and as
unhealthily obsessed with suffering, pain, affliction,
unsatisfactoriness, etc. It is true that those concepts are mentioned
frequently in Buddhist texts, but so too is the methodology to achieve
the complete cessation of all forms of suffering. It can be done. This
is the only reason for following the Buddhist path - for real
any physician we have to identify the nature of the disease before
effective surgery can begin. It is not all doom and gloom along the way:
we would not be seeing things accurately if we did not also spend time
noticing the joy and happiness and love that exists in the world. We
must cherish and enjoy these to the full where they arise without losing
sight of their nature. Happiness, joy and love do not need curing, so
this is why our energies are turned to focus on the real reasons that
beings suffer. Once we have identified that for ourselves we can begin
to effect change.
for the plight of others is not necessarily futile. The fact that we
are concerned about the suffering of people and animals liberates the
potential for acting to overcome it. Unless one decides to take the
ostrich position - which is a choice inevitably resulting in
unsatisfactoriness and more suffering - the task is to act in the world
in ways that can lead to this cessation. We take small steps at a pace
which is manageable and which provides evidence of efficacy along the
way. The difficult and rewarding work that we do in meditation may seem
to be only a small step but its impact can be huge. Through the
realisations and the qualities developed in the time we spend on the
cushion we will have the ability to act only skilfully. With a firm
commitment to sila our actions can bear only kammicly positive (or at
worst neutral) outcomes. In the short term we will reduce the pain we
cause others and bring about greater harmony in our interactions. In the
long term we have the potential to be fully liberated and, importantly,
to help others on towards nibbāna too.
of this requires blind faith. After beginning a serious meditation
practice (and especially if we pay attention to sila by integrating the
precepts into our lives) we shall begin to uncover bits of evidence
confirming the validity of the operation we are carrying out. These
glimpses will be of no use to anyone else but they will be conclusive
enough to spur us on because they arise from our own experience. They
provide the validation that is needed when we meet difficulties. This
confidence in the truth and effectiveness of the Buddha’s path grows
stronger as we continue to practice. It cannot be grafted on, picked up
from books, or willed into existence but will arise through determined
effort and dedication to our meditation practice.
some people are well aware of the suffering that exists in the world
they feel it will overwhelm them and their immediate response is to back
away. Will the worry really cease by choosing to disengage? Would it
not be preferable to work with the advantages they already have (i.e. an
understanding of the nature of the problem) to make things better for
those who suffer? If we have demonstrated the ability to recognise the
needs of others and a willingness and aptitude for empathy and goodwill
then we can use these very powerful qualities.
is it done? Slowly, gradually, and without running before we can walk.
In the Mettā meditation instructions I said that it was important, at
least at this early stage, not to pick people you hate in the difficult
person category. It is the same with the sections here. Ultimately we
will be able to show compassion for all beings, but most of us have a
long way to go before this will be possible. Those we may think of, in
western terms, as psychopaths are probably not a good subject with which
to begin. Start with the little guys and work up to those who present
you with more difficulty.
can we know that people who cause harm are themselves suffering or will
suffer? Granted, some of the suffering may not be readily apparent to
us - but perhaps some of this is because we treat them as
one-dimensional archetypes rather than as rounded individuals. If we see
someone as the epitome of aggression or malice we are unlikely to take
much notice of what else they are and do - perhaps they are somebody’s
father, somebody’s wife, someone stressed out in the workplace, someone
consumed by guilt and fear. We must also acknowledge that at times we
can successfully project a confident bright image to others when
internally we may be falling apart. What makes you think that these
people are any different? Who can accurately assess the stress, strain,
disappointment, worry, anger, fear, which any other being suffers
inside? Remember always that we are not looking to like the person or
condone their actions in any way. What we are recognising is that
although on many levels they are different to us and the other beings
with whom they share the world they also have things in common. They are
subject to craving, subject to anger, subject to delusion. However much
they may try to force their will on the world they cannot ultimately
maintain happiness - it is against the natural laws within which we all
must work. Just like us they are subject to sickness, subject to ageing,
subject to death. Regardless of how much they may try to distance
themselves from this they will have to face it.
people feel that wrongdoers do not suffer from their actions; but it is
often salutary to look to our own experience. Have you ever truly got
away with anything? Even if the outside world may think you have? I am
not merely speaking of being pricked by conscience now and again. What
about the health implications, the relationship implications, the
self-respect implications, of each unskilful action we have carried out?
In our harming of others we harm ourselves - the payback may take a
while to develop, but it always comes.
not expect to be able to feel compassion or lovingkindness at this
stage for each and every being. There would be no point in working with
these practices at all if you could do this now. Perfection takes some
time. If you have the faintest glimmer of one of these qualities towards
any individual being then you have the capacity to develop that
quality. It is not easy but it is worth it on both a mundane and a
Honouring our current capacity
people find that working on Compassion Meditation takes a lot out of
them initially. Balancing this with Meditation on Joy, a technique we
shall look at shortly, or Lovingkindness Meditation can be very
beneficial. Allow yourself the freedom to work with the different
techniques as you see fit. Don’t slog on resenting a particular teaching
or technique. It is better that you simply treat it as inappropriate
for your needs at this time and return to it later. If we force
ourselves through grizzly sessions we are likely to abandon the exercise
completely. Instead, commit yourself to a regular time for your
sittings and then adapt them to fit your needs. It is better, though, to
retain your space each day for this work - it’s too easy otherwise to
regularly skip sessions completely. If you feel unable to do a formal
sitting then spend the time reading Dhamma books or in reflection.
all have different needs at different times. Reading Dhamma texts can
be pretty useful in order to awaken a degree of faith in what we are
doing. If we have access to the experience and enthusiasm of other
meditators that too can be of help. Others rely heavily on extending
their periods of mindfulness into the rest of the day, and find that
this allows them to tune-in better when they actually arrive at their
formal sitting. Some of us who have developed a more devotional bent
spend time awakening faith through reflecting on the qualities of the
Buddha - but this would seem alien to many.
we should guard against rigidity in our practice there is a basic
requirement to commit to regular periods of meditation. However if
circumstances mean we miss sessions we simply have to accept that this
has happened and resolve to try and stick to them from now on. There
isn’t really any place for guilt in this scenario. We’re living in the
present rather than regretting missed opportunities. Hopefully as we
progress the value of the different styles will become apparent, and we
will be able to use them skilfully to balance our sessions. There will,
however, always be ups and downs.
with the techniques we are using. If you hit a rocky patch have a look
again at how you construct your meditation sessions. Maybe alternating a
couple of techniques would help provide a balance. On some days you
could work in a freer way with the individual sections within a
technique - or abandon the sections altogether and see how the mind
reacts to that. Nothing is fixed in the approach we are taking. I hope
to outline traditional techniques clearly, but there are many ways in
which they can be modified and yet still have useful results. Give them a
fair trial as they are outlined, but then use your own judgement about
your particular needs.
beautiful passage that follows was written by the late Ven. Nyanaponika
Thera a German Buddhist monk who spent most of his life in Sri Lanka:
is compassion that removes the heavy bar, opens the door to freedom,
makes the narrow heart as wide as the world. Compassion takes away from
the heart the inert weight, the paralysing heaviness; it gives wings to
those who cling to the lowlands of self.
compassion the fact of suffering remains vividly present to our mind,
even at times when we personally are free from it. It gives us the rich
experience of suffering, thus strengthening us to meet it prepared, when
it does befall us. …
sunk in ignorance, lost in delusion, hasten from one state of suffering
to another, not knowing the real cause, not knowing the escape from it.
This insight into the general law of suffering is the real foundation
of our compassion, not any isolated fact of suffering.
our compassion will also include those who at the moment may be happy,
but act with an evil and deluded mind. In their present deeds we shall
foresee their future state of distress, and compassion will arise.
compassion of the wise man does not render him a victim of suffering.
His thoughts, words and deeds are full of pity. But his heart does not
waver; unchanged it remains, serene and calm. How else should he be able
such compassion arise in our hearts! Compassion, that is a sublime
nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to
Compassion that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest compassion. “
Contemplation - Day 31
insulting, nor harming;
within the rules,
in eating, secluded in abode,
on high attainments:
is the teaching
by a shower of gold coins
little sweetness and great pain
this, the wise
no delight even in heavenly pleasures:
disciple of the Supreme Buddha
in the destruction of craving.
mountains and forests,
groves and tree shrines.
secure refuge is found there;
resorting to such a refuge
no release from suffering:
are not the refuge supreme.
Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 4:58 PM
Tuesday - Four Noble Truths
1. Four Noble Truths
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
The Buddha said:
is through not understanding, not realizing four things that I,
Disciples, as well as you, had to wander so long through this round of
rebirths. And what are these four things? They are:
The Noble Truth of Suffering
The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering
The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering
The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Extinction of Suffering
long as the absolutely true knowledge and insight regarding these Four
Noble Truths was not quite clear in me, so long was I not sure that I
had won that supreme Enlightenment which is unsurpassed in all the world
with its heavenly beings, evil spirits and gods, amongst all the hosts
of ascetics and priests, heavenly beings and men. But as soon as the
absolute true knowledge and insight as regards these Four Noble Truths
had become perfectly clear in me, there arose in me the assurance that I
had won that supreme Enlightenment unsurpassed.
I discovered that profound truth, so difficult to perceive, difficult
to understand, tranquillising and sublime, which is not to be gained by
mere reasoning, and is visible only to the wise.
world, however, is given to pleasure, delighted with pleasure,
enchanted with pleasure. Truly, such beings will hardly understand the
law of conditionality, the Dependent Origination of everything;
incomprehensible to them will also be the end of all formations, the
forsaking of every substratum of rebirth, the fading away of craving,
detachment, extinction, Nibbāna.
Yet there are beings whose eyes are only a little covered with dust: they will understand the truth.”
from Digha Nikāya 16, Samyutta Nikāya LVI.11, Majjhima Nikāya 26,
translated and compiled by Ven. Nyanatiloka in The Word of the Buddha,
On Lovingkindness and Compassion (Video)
Andrew speaks about the difference between Lovingkindness and Compassion.
Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 4:59 PM
Contemplation - Day 32
for refuge to the Buddha,
Dhamma and the Sangha,
Four Noble Truths:
the Noble Eightfold Path
to its cessation.
is indeed a secure refuge;
is the refuge supreme.
seeking such refuge
release from all suffering.
is hard to find a thoroughbred man,
a one is not found everywhere:
where such an enlightened one exists
people thrive happily.
is the arising of Buddhas,
is the teaching of the Dhamma,
is the unity of the Sangha,
sweet is the discipline of the united.
those worthy of reverence,
the Buddhas and their disciples -
have transcended all impediments,
passed beyond sorrow and grief:
who reveres such peaceful
merit beyond measure.
Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:14 PM
Wednesday - The Truth of Dukkha
1. The Truth of Dukkha
THE FIRST NOBLE TRUTH
The Truth of Dukkha
is usually translated as suffering. It is one of the three
characteristics of life in conditioned realms such as ours. It can also
be rendered as unsatisfactoriness, anguish, dis-ease, pain, misery,
conflict, and ill depending on the context in which we are using it.
Buddha’s first sermon after he became Enlightened concerned itself
solely with the formulation of the Four Noble Truths and they are the
essence of the teaching. They are often misunderstood and this is where
some see Buddhism as a pessimistic or nihilistic belief system. Nothing
could be further from the truth. True, the Buddha identified the
unsatisfactoriness that underlies all conditioned phenomena; but he also
showed us a Path that leads to its cessation.
people baulk at the idea that life is suffering or that our lives are
inherently unsatisfactory. Can’t we simply say that it would be better
to look on the bright side and concentrate instead on what is
pleasurable in our lives? We could do that but we would be falling into a
trap. It is not simply a question of choosing to look on the positive
rather than the negative side. If we look deeply we will see that
underpinning almost every happiness is a tinge of sadness or
unsatisfactoriness. The reverse does not really stand scrutiny - It is
simply not the case that all unhappiness is tinged with joy and
Buddha is traditionally known as the supreme surgeon, an unrivalled
healer. His method involves diagnosing the illness, seeking its cause,
considering the removal of the problem and finally applying the remedy.
we spend time denying the underlying reality of our existence - running
away from the facts - we will not reach liberation. Of course it would
be foolish to see life as only consisting of suffering and hardship. We
can all see that there are genuine times of happiness, pleasure,
contentment, and satisfaction in our lives. What the Buddha asks us to
do is to look very closely at the true nature of our experience.
most moments of happiness are tinged with the sadness that they are
finite. Our loving relationships are informed by the understanding that
they will end. If we look closely we will see that underpinning
everything that we hold dear is an impermanent reality - our denial of
which brings suffering. We choose to go against the laws of nature and
try to cling on to things which we know by their nature must change. We
grasp greedily for those things we perceive as bringing us happiness
only to find that the salve they provide is at best temporary.
Buddha has shown us a Way that is better than any of this. It leads to
the complete end of suffering. It is not a recipe for despondency and
hopelessness but rather a Way to complete liberation.
Contemplation - Day 33
we live -
amidst the hostile.
dwell without hostility.
we live -
amidst the afflicted.
dwell without affliction.
we live -
amidst the avaricious.
dwell without avarice.
we live -
shall feed on rapture
the conquered suffer.
peaceful live happily,
victory and defeat.
is no fire like craving,
loss like hatred,
affliction like the aggregates,
no bliss higher than Peace.
Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:16 PM
Thursday - Dukkha’s Origin
1. Dukkha’s Origin
THE SECOND NOBLE TRUTH
The Noble Truth of the Origin of Dukkha
“What, now, is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering?
It is craving, which gives rise to fresh rebirth, and, bound
up with pleasure and lust, now here, now there, finds
-Digha Nikāya 22
This craving takes three forms:
Sensual craving is the desire for enjoyment through
any of the sense doors. When we perceive a visual object, sound, odour,
taste, or touch something, if it is deemed to be pleasant we approve of
it, cherish it, and cling to it. When it passes we lust after it or
regret its passing. When we perceive through the same senses something
that is unpleasant we are repelled and seek to get rid of the object and
avoid it in the future. We also do this with mind objects:
consciousness, perceptions and feelings. Instead of accepting the true
nature of these things we either try to hold on to them and ‘own’ them -
when their very nature ensures they are temporary, fleeting, - or we
try to avoid them and wish them away - when instead we should see them
as a part of our lives. Only when we cease to attach the labels of
pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent to the feelings that arise in
relation to these objects will we cease the process of clinging.
Craving for existence is the desire for continued or
eternal life. The delusive non-materialistic notion of an eternal Ego
(or Self, or Soul) which persists independently of our body. Because we
cling both to other objects and to some notion that we are a permanent
unchanging Soul, we act in ways that will cause suffering. By clinging
to this notion of Self we distort our relationship to others and to the
process of becoming. It is through this craving that we fix ourselves in
a process which results in future births with their attendant sorrows,
pain, grief, and despair.
Craving for self-annihilation is the delusive
materialistic notion of a real Ego that is annihilated at death (and
which therefore has no causal relationship with the time before or after
death). If we choose to believe that everything ends with our death
again, by our actions, we distort our relationship to others and the
world. We are essentially shoring-up our own Ego by claiming that life
has only the value that we determine it should have: our world-view is
what is deemed to matter. We will be tempted to behave in ways that are
selfish, arrogant and hedonistic. Our actions will be determined by how
much we like or dislike things, and we will therefore miss the
opportunity to see these things for what they really are. In a real
sense we become the centre of the universe - a universe about which we
care little about, it being a mere extension of our own finite Ego.
“Whatever kind of ‘feeling’ one experiences -
pleasant, unpleasant or neutral - if one approves of, and cherishes the
feeling, and clings to it, then while doing so, lust springs up; but
lust for feelings means ‘clinging’, and on clinging depends the ‘process
of becoming’; on the process of becoming depends ‘birth’ and dependent
on birth are ‘decay and death’, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and
despair. Thus arises the whole mass of suffering.”
- Majjhima Nikāya 38
Contemplation - Day 34
is the worst disease.
aggregates are the worst affliction.
this as it is,
wise realize Nibbana, the bliss supreme.
is the highest reward.
is the greatest of riches.
trustworthy are the best kin.
is the highest bliss.
solitude and tranquillity,
of fear and stain one becomes,
deep the joy of the Dhamma.
is good to see the Noble,
live among them is bliss.
is ever happy.
company of fools
company of fools,
of an enemy, is always painful.
with the wise is happy:
a meeting with kin.
with one who is intelligent,
the virtuous and discerning:
the moon, the starry path.
Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:17 PM
Friday - Extinction of Dukkha
1. Extinction of Dukkha
THE THIRD NOBLE TRUTH
The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Dukkha.
now, is the Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering? It is the
complete fading away and extinction of this craving, its forsaking and
abandonment, liberation and detachment from it.”
- Digha Nikāya 22
THE FOURTH NOBLE TRUTH
The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Extinction of Dukkha.
The Path is one between two extremes:
give oneself up to indulgence in Sensual Pleasure, the base, common,
vulgar, unholy, unprofitable; or to give oneself up to
Self-mortification, the painful, unholy, unprofitable: both these two
extremes, the Perfect One has avoided, and has found out the Middle
Path, which makes one both to see and to know, which leads to peace, to
discernment, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna.”
- Samyutta Nikāya LVI, 11
This Path is known as the Noble Eightfold Path.
Contemplation - Day 35
what should be avoided,
choosing what should be pursued,
up the goal, one who seeks pleasure
envies those who exert themselves.
subscribe to likes and dislikes.
separation from the liked,
the presence of the disliked,
separation from it pains one.
bonds are there for one
from likes and dislikes.
preference arises grief,
preference arises fear.
from preference one is
from grief and fear.
affection arises grief,
affection arises fear.
from affection one is
from grief and fear.
attachment arises grief,
attachment arises fear.
from attachment one is
from grief and fear.
Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:19 PM
Chant Workshop 5 (optional)
1. Chant Workshop 5
meditation practices we are using are drawn from the Theravāda
tradition which bases its teachings on the words of the Buddha and his
early followers as recorded in the Pāli Canon. Pāli is a written
liturgical language and is often also used for traditional chants that
many meditators find helpful as part of their spiritual practice. During
the course we will introduce a small number of these chants in Pāli or
in translated English form.
Over the weeks the individual chants build to form the text for a
puja, or dedication ceremony, that some practitioners may wish to use as
a way of periodically rededicating their meditation practice. Please
use the chants if you find them helpful; please ignore them if you
CHANT 5: The Sublime Abodes
Note: This English chant is formed of a text that is found several
times in the Pāli Canon. It refers to the Buddha choosing to radiate
lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity to all
sentient beings - wherever they are. It is, perhaps, an aspiration for
all of us to develop that capacity.
I will abide pervading one quarter
with a mind imbued with Lovingkindess.
Likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth;
so above and below, around and everywhere,
and to all as to myself.
I will abide pervading the all-encompassing world
with a mind imbued with Lovingkindness:
abundant, exalted, immeasurable,
without hostility and without ill-will.
(repeat for Compassion, Gladness/Appreciative Joy, Equanimity)
Click to Play:
Download link: https://course.org/mcaudio/c/5-Brahmaviharas.mp3
Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 5:01 PM
Leave a Reply