27 Sep 2014

Alan started by providing us with the flow of context for today’s practice, Great Empathetic Joy. The Four Greats have the even-heartedness of equanimity as their foundation. The false facsimile of equanimity is aloof indifference, which could lead one to aim only for one’s own liberation. So it is Great Compassion that could serve as a remedy to pull us out of indifference, since it opens our eyes and our hearts to the suffering of the world. Then we move on to Great Loving Kindness, where we focus on the positive that is also found in the world. We then move further on to Great Empathetic Joy, and the classical Tibetan liturgy for that starts with the question: Why couldn’t all sentient beings be never parted from sublime happiness devoid of suffering? It is clear that “sublime happiness” cannot mean hedonic pleasure. To feel pleasure or strive only for pleasure even when the world around us is full of suffering would be a totally deluded attitude. But how is it possible to maintain the state of sublime happiness despite viewing all suffering? The only perspective from which this is possible is the perspective of rigpa. To rest in rigpa, sustain this view and remaining totally inactive, but inactive only as a sentient being, while at the same time being totally active in the world, and all your activity being just spontaneously actualized. Well, right now we only have some foretaste of what this would be like… Alan then shares a story about a yogi up in the Himalayas, and explains how we bring that into our situation. This yogi stated that when he attends to the suffering, he first opens his heart to it with empathy, and out of that some vision arises that there is a possibility for freedom. This means you develop a vision about the causes and conditions that are necessary to bring this about, and that’s what your aspiration is rooted in, that you will bring this about. Then you do what is right for now, and out of that comes your well-being. So what can we do to bring it about, what is good for right now? It again boils down to creating a suitable environment, having companions, spiritual guidance… Wait a minute, doesn’t that sound like a contemplative observatory?

Guided meditation starts at 46:09 min

Download (M4A / 33 MB)


This lecture does not have a text transcript. Please contact us if you’d like to volunteer to assist our transcription team.


Ask questions about this lecture on the Buddhism Stack Exchange or the Students of Alan Wallace Facebook Group. Please include this lecture’s URL when you post.