Now that you have
explored karuna, its obstacles and its allies, use
these meditations to practice.
Guidance for meditating on the brahma-viharas
In these meditations you imagine different people
(including yourself), directing phrases to them
that will help uncover thoughts, attitudes and
Remember: you are not trying to will yourself
to feel and act more "compassionately." The
goal of these meditations is to create a shift
in your attitudes and emotions towards yourself
The reflections you did during this lesson help
affect this shift by focusing awareness on how
you habitually think and feel in various situations
with other people.
The phrases of these meditations then help reveal
the compassion already inside of you.
In doing meditation specifically designed to nurture
compassion, we usually use just one or two phrases.
The two phrases traditionally used are:
you be free of your pain and sorrow"
Because inevitably everyone
will not be free of pain and sorrow,
you may encounter difficulty with this phrase.
If you do, try using this traditional phrase
knowing that it is meant to suggest you are
going to make it all OK. Rether, it’s
a way of coming close, a way of wishing well.
Ot you can change the phrase to something
like “I care about your pain or sorrow.”
you find peace."
Or you can keep on using your metta phrases
It is important that the phrase be meaningful
to you. You may feel more comfortable using
a phrase that implies the wish for a more
loving acceptance of pain, rather than
freedom from pain. Experiment with different
phrases, seeing which ones support a compassionate
opening to pain and which ones seem to
lead you more in the direction of aversion
The order of recipients of your karuna meditation
is different than the metta meditations you did
in Lesson 1. For compassion the sequence we use
A friend in distress. This should be a real
person, not just a symbolic aggregate of all
Someone who has helped you
A neutral person
Follow the procedure you are using for each of
the brahma-vihara meditations:
Get into a comfortable posture.
Your physical comfort is important.
Move if necessary, but do so
Close your eyes and relax.
Arrive on the cushion.
Sense the body sitting. (Scan
Gently, and with kindness, bring
your attention to the heart center
(at the chest). Keep your attention
Notice any sensations that you
Breath in/out as if from your
chest. Take several deep breaths.
Compassion for Those Who Cause Pain
Here's a challenging extension of your compassion
meditation — directing compassion to those
who inflict pain.
Why might you do
us to reach out to all living beings,
including our so-called enemies, those
people who upset or hurt us. Irrespective
of what they do to you, if you remember
that all beings like you are only trying
to be happy, you will find it much easier
to develop compassion towards them. Dalai
This meditation asks us to understand that causing
harm to others inevitably means creating harm for
oneself, both now and in the future. Seeing someone
lie, steal, or hurt beings in some other way is
therefore the ground out of which compassion for
them can arise.
People on retreats I've taught often choose their
least favorite political leader as the object.
It is not necessarily an easy practice, but it
can revolutionize our understanding.
If you are filled with judgment or condemnation
of yourself or others, can you revise your perceptions
to see the world in terms of suffering and the
end of suffering, instead of good and bad? To see
the world in terms of suffering and the end of
suffering is buddha-mind, and will lead us away
from righteousness and anger. Get in touch with
your own buddha-mind, and you will uncover a healing
force of compassion.
Direct the phrase "May you
be free of your pain and sorrow," toward
someone who is causing harm in the
You can move from directing compassion
to someone creating harm, through
the cycle of beings (self, benefactor,
etc.). Notice particularly whether
this meditation, over time, creates
a different relationship to yourself,
and to your enemy. Remember that
compassion doesn't need to justify
itself—it is its own reason