Loving Kindness

So tonight we will discuss bodhicitta. I will discuss how to practice bodhicitta and my limited experience of meditation. You've heard a lot of teaching and read a lot of books on bodhicitta. When you try to put it into practice you may have difficulties.. I found this was true in my personal experience. I wondered, "What's wrong with me?" That doesn't mean your study and contemplation isn't working. But there's something more. Bodhicitta is always said in the teaching to be very important because it is all the Buddha's teaching condensed into one topic. Bodhicitta is the seed of enlightenment and perfect happiness. It is the seed of happiness for oneself and benefit for others. So that is why bodhicitta is said to be important. Bodhicitta is divided into conventional and ultimate bodhicitta. This is how it is explained philosophically. Conventional bodhicitta is loving kindness and compassion. Ultimate bodhicitta is the mahamudra mind or dzogpa chenpo. There are different levels of understanding and experience of bodhicitta.

When you develop insight, some amount of loving kindness and warm heart, a feeling of happiness arises in you. Sometimes this is momentary and sometimes stable. It depends on the individual. The moment that loving kindness arises harmful thoughts disappear and negative actions stop. So loving kindness has that power. So one tries to develop loving kindness. It's not just for oneself, it is developing warm feelings to others. But it requires, hard, genuine practice through our actions, physically, verbally, and mentally. From the spiritual point of view, what loving kindness means is the desire for happiness without expecting something in return.

So as a human being we do have experiences of loving kindness to ourselves, our family and friends. It is fundamentally important to have this love. But we have to research what the difficulty is. Why the loving kindness is there and sometimes not. When we truly love, what happens then? The human realm is the desire realm. Buddha taught a little bit clearer about that. There is something you should understand more than that. The basis of love is the family. There are ups and downs, but the emotion is always there. The Buddhist point of view is that a good relationship brings joy and happiness. If there is something wrong, we experience unhappiness.

I found it an interesting subject, so I researched it as much as possible. What I found is there is always some attachment to friends, family, or your religion. I found this made sense to me. That is the reason you have difficulties, which brings unhappiness. This doesn't mean you shouldn't have love, you should. There is something you should understand practically. We need to understand better so we can have relationships without afflictive emotions. Nonattachment is important. It is not easy. Without attachment, there is no strong feeling. That is the general human nature. I studied and tried to practice. I am still uncomfortable in my heart or body, daytime or nighttime. Through meditation there develops a little clear understanding, which becomes love to the family. There is a subtle level which requires more understanding. The desire for happiness is the nature of beings, for every sentient being, no matter who they are.

How do we do meditation on loving kindness? At practice time think that all mother sentient beings always desire happiness. Bring that feeling into your heart. You have to meditate on it. You have to mix the meaning of the word and the heart together time and again to understand it. Most of the time in meditation you will have a very kind mind without negative thoughts to anyone. But when negative thoughts arise, you can meditate on loving kindness. Other beings desire happiness, just as you do. What has brought me happiness is practicing like this and understanding some level of loving kindness. It doesn't mean we shouldn't love our friends and family. There is something in our relationships that always brings us unhappiness. We don't need that part. We shouldn't have afflictive emotions. But we should have family and friends. When you remember someone, you should develop loving kindness. That will improve your loving kindness.

When you develop this, it will lead to so many positive actions. Through loving kindness you understand the ultimate nature, which is emptiness. The real emptiness is when we truly understand loving kindness and compassion. That will lead us to understand emptiness itself. So to start practicing loving kindness, start with your friend. This is a skillful method recommended by Jigten Sumgon. Start meditating on love to your very good friend. Then understand the big picture, Everyone has the same desire to have happiness and love. Loving kindness is one of the most important connections with somebody. That connection is always useful. It is very important to act with loving kindness and use kind and pleasant words. Language is very powerful. Verbally train yourself. Meditation practice can make you mentally strong. You can practice loving kindness to yourself by appreciating your precious human life. Understand the right wisdom and have high aspirations. Everything you need to study is available. When you realize how important you are as well as the importance of others, that is appreciating the interconnection with others. That can develop good mutual understanding with others.

Higher meditators through meditation have so many experiences of different levels of understanding. Meditation can bring more understanding than reading a hundred books. I'm not saying you shouldn't study. Meditation develops the true understanding from the heart, not the wisdom that arises from the texts. It is important to understand and remember the kindness of friends, teachers, or anyone. Even if someone brings you one cup of tea, or speaks kindly to you. Or anyone who puts energy into their family friends, or religion. Remembering every moment of kindness of that person will bring love to them and all beings. You should remember the kindness of trees, water, wind, and all the elements.

When your practice becomes strong enough, remember the kindness of enemies. We don't want to hear that sometimes, but it is the reality. My enemy makes me angry by harsh words. When enemy makes trouble, my mind is generally upset. That makes the enemy happy and satisfied. Meditators should look at themselves. Realize how angry you are. The anger you feel benefits the enemy. But it is hard. To tell the truth it is not easy. You have to have a clear understanding of the Buddhist teaching. When you have energy to accept something, you have the energy to transform it.

Bodhicitta is important to your practice and to your life. To develop realization depends on bodhicitta. Happiness between two people depends on bodhicitta. So it is important to practice and to daily life. If there is some difficulty, discuss it with the master. Generally when you meditate on loving kindness different experiences happen.. Sometimes you feel uncomfortable. And sometimes there is not enough knowledge or explanation from the teacher. Therefore before you practice, you have to make sure you understand some theory and logic of loving kindness. Then when you put it into practice, there will be more understanding.

Meditating on loving kindness is beneficial to you. Happiness will arise within yourself. It will stop negative actions. Once you understand loving kindness, negative emotion naturally do not arise. Once you stop creating negativities by practicing loving kindness it purifies your negativities from the past. Loving kindness itself is the real deity yoga practice. It is the wind practice. There is no separation there. They are equally important and interrelated. There is no separation. The way to meditate on loving kindness is to put this understanding into your heart and mind and practice it always. If it fades, recite the prayers and again bring it to heart. All practice has to be done that way.

Then a feeling of joy will arise inside. Even if someone in front of you is making noise or saying terrible things, that feeling is there. When you are in different situations, you will be calm and have compassion to other people, whoever they are. Then there will be a deeper understanding of mahamudra. Loving kindness itself is mahamudra nature. The subtle level of understanding, mahamudra is always there. Some people may think with mahamudra there is no loving kindness or compassion. If they think this that, then they misunderstand. Truly understanding loving kindness is mahamudra.

Question & Answer

Q: How can we apply loving kindness on a world level to pacify the world situation?

A: I think this is an important issue. Today we talked mostly of the small picture. I would say when something goes wrong in the world people die every day. By human nature, we don't want to see this. The individual responsibility when something is going wrong one becomes angry and upset by the situation. The individual has to be not upset with that, but try to mentally have loving kindness towards them. Make prayers for their benefit.

As a human being with spiritual belief I practice loving kindness for anyone suffering in prison in any country. I can send loving kindness to those people. Each person has individual karma. This is not easy to accept. The country has collective karma. The spiritual way of thinking is to see that suffering is a result of karma. That is why there is suffering. In Tibet people are suffering, but if I become upset that doesn't make sense. I become uncomfortable without giving any help to them. But I feel I have the responsibility to say a few words about Tibet so I can bring news about it to the West.

Q: Is it more effective to do a wrathful practice to overcome that kind of suffering?

A: It depends on the understanding and ability of the practitioner.

Q: What's the best way to handle the suffering when you see others suffering?

A: The most important part is you should have loving kindness to others, as if they were yourself. And understand the suffering you think you see in others is not necessarily suffering. It may be a sign of your loving kindness. Trying to help others can sometimes make something worse. You need to use a skillful method.

Q: Sometimes it seems that suffering is necessary to develop compassion.

A: Bodhisattvas have their own kind of prayers. They pray to take the suffering of others. You need to make yourself strong enough to take someone's suffering. The bodhisattvas have this strength and can transform any suffering. You have to develop loving kindness first then slowly you can try to help others. I was in Lapchi and went to the mountains. My personal experience was limited. I was a refugee in India then I came to the United States and became a citizen., I went to the Lapchi mountains. I went with three Tibetans and four Taiwanese. There was not enough food and water. Each individual has different experience. Those who had had a hard life weren't bothered much. Those of us who were spoiled understood how precious our experience was. We had never seen this kind of thing. Whenever I go now, I just try to be simple and be satisfied with the necessities.