Everyone As a Friend

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Meditation — cultivating closeness

By seeing that people suffer and thinking of them as dear, you develop compassion. So after meditatively transforming your attitude toward friends, enemies, and neutral persons such that you are becoming even-minded toward all of them, the next step is to meditate on everyone as friends, to feel that they have been profoundly close.

In meditation, take individual persons to mind, starting with your friends. Reflect on how close your best friend is — recognize your attitude, for example, when your friend needs your concern, like when she's ill. This is an appeal to common experience, to how we already naturally react to close friends. Then, in meditation, extend this feeling to more beings.

To consider ourselves dear we usually do not have to enter into meditation. We cherish ourselves greatly. When we see ourselves suffering, we have no problem in wishing to escape that suffering. The problem lies in not cherishing others. The ability to cherish others has to be cultivated.

In meditation:

  1. Visualize someone you like very much and then superimpose the image of someone toward whom you are neutral. Alternate between the two images until you value the person toward whom you are neutral as much as the friend.

  2. Then superimpose in succession the images of a number of people toward whom you are neutral, until you value each of them as much as the greatest of friends.

  3. When you have developed facility with those two steps, it will be possible to extend the meditation to enemies.

Another approach, which doesn't rely on rebirth, is recognizing that we're all equal in wanting happiness and not wanting suffering. And if it's worthwhile for me to gain happiness, then it's worthwhile for everyone else to gain happiness. Noticing this similarity makes us close.