05 Apr 2016

Alan begins with a commentary on the four immeasurables that ended yesterday with the meditative cultivation of equanimity, and explains how we are now left on an even open field which is in many ways the culmination of the monastic ideal. One has now stepped out of the realm of likes and dislikes and into the realm of evenly distributed warmth, kindness and compassion. This serves as the basis for crossing the threshold into the Mahayana, where this equality extends into the equality of self and other. Here we venture into what Alan calls “the Four Greats”, starting with maha karuna - Great Compassion. When we move from the four “Immeasurables” to the four “Greats”, we move from aspiration to intention.

Alan starts with maha karuna because this practice is very much emphasised in the Mahayana tradition, and when someone is suffering this is where we start. First we relieve the suffering, and then we can look to the vision of happiness. Maha karuna, if logically followed, can only lead to Bodhicitta. Before the meditation Alan unpacks the four-fold maha karuna liturgy.

  1. Why couldn’t all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering?
  2. May it be so. May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
  3. I shall free all beings from suffering and the causes of suffering.
  4. May the guru and the divine (Buddhas) grant the blessings to enable me to do so.

Meditation is on Great Compassion following the four-fold liturgy.

After the meditation Alan starts with a quote from St.Thomas Aquinas. “The whole point of of the political life is the contemplative life.” He expounds on this briefly as meaning broadly that the whole purpose of the hedonia is for eudaimonia. Then he returns to the chapter on Refuge and Bodhicitta at the top of page 33. He then proceeds through to the rest of the chapter with explanations. Among other things, he highlights the fact that Bodhicitta is the most powerful way to accrue merit, and he also quotes the Vajra Essence which affirms that when you’ve identified rigpa, it doesn’t matter how extremely bad or good you’ve been in the past: now you have an unmediated realisation of rigpa and that is what matters from that point on. Finishing the chapter, Alan leaves us with the fact that Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche told one of his students that if one isn’t inclined to do the preliminary practices of 100,000 prostrations and so forth, he recommends to practice shamatha, the four applications of mindfulness and the four immeasurables.

The meditation starts at 32:52

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