06 May 2016

This morning, Alan integrated all theories and practices we’ve been doing during these last five weeks. He started by coming back to the pith instructions from Panchen Rinpoche yesterday: examine very closely the way of existing or the way of abiding, the way you appear and the way you apprehend yourself. And then he explained that the way of abiding and the way of appearing are different things, giving two examples: (1) Robert de Niro, as a very gifted actor, appears in many different ways - a villain, a loving father, a father in law - but there is a certain way of his acting that abides as his trademark; (2) fire manifests in many ways - red, yellow, blue, torch, candle, supernova - and yet, it’s always hot, burning. We ourselves appear in many different ways even in one lifetime, let alone in many lifetimes - some very agreeable, pleasant and others just repugnant. But in all cases, what is the common denominator? What is abiding, every single day, in all of our manifestations, from the most angelical to the most demonic? What is abiding in each of us individually? In a dream, there is nothing but the appearances of our own minds - what is the commonality? And then, Alan related this to Loving Kindness. Like in a lucid dream, but in the waking state, when you’re a vidyadhara, viewing all phenomena from rigpa, all sentient beings you see are you - all sentient beings, in the whole spectrum, from hell realms to pure lands, are creative expressions, effulgences of your own pristine awareness - all beings are seen with equal purity as displays of yourself. Alan highlighted one element of Buddhaghosa’s analysis of the Four Immeasurables as enormously important to anyone who wishes to more deeply and more broadly experience loving kindness - what is the proximate cause, what is that triggers, catalyses, arouses the sense of loving kindness? It is seeing the lovable quality, the lovableness, the endearing quality, the quality of the other that makes the person worthy of affection, of warmth, of love, of loving kindness. Alan says that we should memorize this for the rest of our lives. If we don’t see that, we may go through the routine and we can behave altruistically without being altruistic. Shantideva highlighted that the six perfections are always an inside job, they are qualities of the mind, not qualities of behavior - what we see externally is only the manifestation of that. Where is the lovable quality? What abides? If we point any of the greatest villains of history, they are never grotesque all the time - think of one of those people when he or she was 3 years old, and maybe falling in love, or tending a garden. Nobody can be that constant and nor can we. We can get in really bad moods but not all the time. So where is the lovable quality? If our loving kindness is going to be based upon the way of appearance, then it is going to be a fair-weather loving kindness. It will never be immeasurable loving kindness if it’s responding to “how are you appearing today?” It can’t be that way. It has to be something deeper - the way of abiding. In the Mahayana tradition we have two routes - Maitreya / Asanga and Manjushri / Shantideva. Viewing all beings as our own mothers works very well for people who believes in reincarnation and also that all beings were our mothers in past lives, but in the West it may not work so well. Even if we accept, it can get very abstract. So there is this other route. Shantideva starts out arousing the sense of the equality of self and other, proceeding to Tonglen and so forth. Then we come back to Panchen Rinpoche teachings, the wisdom track, examining close how you abide - what is constant from moments of your worst behavior and your most sublime behavior? Those are all appearances, come and go - what abides through the course of your life? His Holiness the Dalai Lama has pointed to it: our deepest impulse is caring. In the most sublime and worst moods you’re doing what you’re doing because you care, and that’s hardwired, you can’t change that. Our consciousness will still be caring even in the bardo, and it’s a common ground. Sometimes the way we express our caring is very harmful, very biased. But caring is right down to the core of buddha nature. The Buddha achieved enlightenment, stood up from his seat in Bodhgaya and set out in his long walk because of caring. Europeans went to Africa in the XIX Century, enslaving, killing, torturing because they cared about their families, not about the Blacks, of course. But when we see a person expressing caring without being disfigured on the way out we say: look! This person is so caring! And when a person like this comes to mind, loving kindness comes, because it is a lovable quality. And then we see other behavior that is still driven by caring but it has got toxified and we find it horrendously evil. But it’s coming from the same. So Alan wrapped up. We can develop loving kindness in shamatha, achieve shamatha by way of loving kindness - it is a loving shamatha, we achieve shamatha in a subjective mode of viewing that is loving. Alan gave the example of a mother gazing at her child sleeping peacefully, and then love, warmth, caring flow effortlessly. She may just linger there. She doesn’t need to think ‘may you be happy, may you find the causes of happiness’! All techniques are really to bring forth what she’s already got, she’s already resting in shamatha in loving kindness, for some minutes. Then, she looks to another bed in the room and her child’s best friend is there for sleep over. And this child is so similar to her child, equally precious, and naturally gazing to this child, loving kindness is there. Maybe she goes to the window and looks people walking up and down the street and loving kindness is flowing there. And then she sits quietly, with nobody in mind, and she can still dwell in loving kindness. Whoever should come to mind is already a recipient. She has really broken down the barriers - someone who has treated her harshly comes to mind and she sees right through the mode of appearance to the mode of existence. And this person too is worthy of loving kindness. It’s a matter of depth. Caring is always the common ground and it is deeper than the outer displays, which are like the weather - they come and go. Loving kindness is rooted deeper in reality. Now merging vipashyana with loving kindness: can we direct our awareness inwards and see someone who is worthy of loving kindness? Yes! We can penetrate through the myriad modes of appearances to the way we deeply abide, and we see it’s just pure caring, and we are deeply caring persons, everyone is, and therefore lovable. Robert de Niro, Buddhaghosa, Panchen Rinpoche - shamatha, vipashyana, loving kindness, bodhicitta - all the same story.

Meditation is on loving kindness towards what abides in ourselves and starts at 41:08

Please contribute to make these, and future podcasts freely available.

Download (MP3 / 34 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.