34 Tong Len practice and Loving-kindness commentary

21 Sep 2013

We begin the afternoon session with Tonglen meditation. After the session, Alan explains the second component of Tonglen, which is loving-kindness. Alan explains how loving-kindness is often compared with love and how they are different in nature. While ordinary love is an emotion and often comes with associated attachment (to a person, animal or thing), loving-kindness is an aspiration and a heart-felt yearning for sentient beings (both those we feel affection towards and those we despise) that they find genuine happiness (its fruition) and causes of genuine happiness. Also, attachment looks only at the surface of the person and changes with changing circumstances and the person’s behavior. Loving-kindness, on the other hand, looks at a very deep substance of a person and is independent of circumstances and changes in the other person’s behavior or character. Later, Alan refers to the Pali canon to explain both the near and far enemies of loving-kindness. The near enemy is self-centered attachment and the far enemy is ill-will (malice). So, how one can know if his/her practice is successful? If loving-kindness is practiced correctly, malice subsides. Overall, Tonglen practice is really successful when one develops willingness to take on others’ suffering on oneself without regard for one’s own well-being (similar to a mother willing to take on her child’s suffering on herself). In the face of so much suffering present in the world nowadays and our limited ability to do something about it, Tonglen practice is often our best way to contribute to the world, and we don’t need to reserve the practice only to the time on the cushion but should extend it to our everyday activities and interactions with others.

Final note: the microphone gives out at the end, at which point Alan ends the session.

Meditation starts at: 00:40

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