Meditation — reflecting on horrible situations to increase
compassion and equanimity
These descriptions of various hells are used to generate a concern
for the consequences of actions. They also have another function, related
with increasing compassion.
In meditation, imagine a person trapped on the Iron
Grater. Then from your heart come rays of light that
enter into this person. The rays of many colors also
enter into the Iron Grater, making it nice and smooth.
The rays of light enter into the two friends, who then
The image disturbs our persona of calm meditator and brings us into
the kind of personal confrontation that we experience in daily life.
Otherwise, you as the meditator seem rather neutral. It's important
to stimulate the mind on many different emotional levels and extend
the force of the practice through those levels. Imagination is the
In meditation, picture someone as he or she usually
is. Then imagine that person on the Iron Grater and contemplate:
"Just as I want happiness and don't want suffering, so
Lou wants happiness and doesn't want suffering." Begin
by imagining greater and then lesser friends, then work
with neutral people, and finally work with enemies. Think
it to the point where you feel it; then pass on to the next person.
If, when you get to enemies, you cannot find any, go
back to childhood. An enemy is somebody who has harmed,
is harming, or will harm you or your friends. In childhood,
the line between friend and enemy is very clear. Sometimes
you have to think of a difficult situation. For the period
of that difficult situation—whether it is thirty
seconds or ten minutes—do you have an enemy? Put yourself
within that agitated situation. Sometimes a person to
whom we are deeply attached does a little thing wrong,
and that person immediately is an enemy. Thus even friends,
during those periods, are enemies. This practice is not
about relationships as we view them from a distance but
right in their center, at the moment.