Introduction

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This preliminary exercise for generating equanimity really took hold of me when I returned to college.

 

At the monastery, I learned Tibetan and practiced forms of meditation that are known throughout the vast Tibetan cultural region. The meditations that form the structure of this course center around cultivating compassion and reflecting on the true nature of phenomena, and to this day they remain the heart of my daily practice.

In this course, I want to share with you the insights I have gained from practicing techniques for cultivating compassion. I feel the topic is particularly relevant because I have learned that an attitude of "me against the world," where the bottom line is all about the self, creates either despair or merciless competitiveness. It undermines our own happiness and that of everyone around us. It destroys the fabric of society, the very basis of a happy life. Without compassion, biting criticism of others is unchecked. Eventually such negativity attacks in its own autonomous and random way our friends, family, and ourselves. Without compassion, politics becomes a matter of mere power blocks, counterproductively pushing other blocks around, to the point where all interests are eventually thwarted. A compassionless perspective leads to the mania of thinking that economic success is the be-all and end-all of human existence, thereby giving rise to the amoral and even immoral pursuit of money.

The lessons and techniques presented here are especially useful, because they can gradually transform an indifferent and even angry mind into one at least a little more caring and concerned. They offer up hope for a saddened world. Lately some have declared that the second millennium will see a trend toward compassion. May it be so! Since it is not enough to be told to be compassionate, the exercises offered in this book may be valuable. I certainly have found them so.