Category: Blog Posts

A Simple Prayer For Developing Loving Kindness and Compassion

Tibetan prayer room

Tibetan prayer room~ From a talk given by Rinpoche given at California Institute of Integral Studies on Nov. 16th , 2005 ~

Dharma Teaching –  Compassion and Wisdom

There is a saying in the Buddhist traditions:

Birds cannot fly with one wing.

They have two wings.

This means that one can never achieve the great awakening without cultivating the path of compassion as well as wisdom or emptiness.

Recently I met with a Tibetan lama who has been reading my poems and spiritual songs. He said that while he appreciated my poems but he thought I emphasized emptiness and didn’t say much about compassion.

He encouraged me to write more about compassion and loving kindness.

Therefore I feel that this talk is a miraculous opportunity for me. It allows me to remember how important it is to unite the practice of compassion with wisdom– the understanding of emptiness, the nature of reality.

These two are the foundation of Buddhist practice, especially in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

The word for compassion in the Tibetan language [sNying rje] actually means heart and the practice of compassion deals with the heart rather than the head.

Compassion has nothing to do with intellectual concepts or philosophy. It is about opening one’s heart. There is innate compassion within each of us. Our pure essence is compassion, whether we are aware of that or not.

When our mind is shrouded in layers of emotional upset we are not able to listen to that innate compassion even though it is the very pure essence of our consciousness.

For example when you are driving along and see an animal that has been killed, or you see somebody who has been in a car accident instantly you want to help them. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know their name, address or phone number.

Without having any prior contact you automatically feel sympathy and want to help. Often people recite prayers. You wish and aspire for them to be happy, to not suffer and to gain freedom and liberation. It is very natural.

You don’t have to be a bodhisattva to practice compassion. You don’t have to be a Buddhist or a Christian either. It’s natural.

You also experience this sudden expression of innate compassion when there are natural disasters or catastrophes such as earthquakes, floods, famine, and epidemics. At these times we see that there are many people everywhere on earth who care about the suffering of other people.

But sometimes it is easy to think that most human beings are self-centered and don’t care about the well being of others. This is quite easy to believe when you drive on the highway. Most people are extremely aggressive and self-centered when they drive.

Everyone tries to get ahead of everyone else by honking their horn and acting quite nasty. It seems that nobody gives a chance to anybody else.

But that’s not really true. When there is a great natural disaster we see that human beings care for each other. We saw this after hurricane Katrina. We have a sangha sister, a quiet southern lady, a wife, who seems to be quite low profile.

But suddenly overnight she became this bodhisattva, powerful personality. She went on the radio and asked everybody to donate bicycles. She wound up collecting 300 bicycles and gave them to those who had lost their vehicles and had no means of transportation.

She became this powerful human being with magic, power and so much potential to relieve other people’s suffering.

Even though we often experience our internal issues, mental defilements such as hatred and resentment, at the same time the very pure essence of our consciousness, our heart, is actually divine.

It is Buddha, awake. It is enlightened because it’s really love and compassion. In Buddhism they often say that the human mind or consciousness is like a mirror covered with dust.

When the mirror is covered with dust it can no longer reflect images but when the dust is removed the mirror is absolutely perfect. It’s already a royal mirror. It can reflect images.

The mirror has always been the mirror. The dust on the mirror is not the mirror. It is the incidental obscuration to the mirror. Similarly the true, pure, eternal essence of the our consciousness, of our being is actually already enlightened, its already Buddha, it is love, wisdom and compassion.

The states of unenlightened mind that we are experiencing in our everyday lives- anger, hatred, resentment, jealousy, confusion, fear– are not really a part of our consciousness. They are incidental obscurations.

They are not natural to our pure state of mind. And they can be completely transcended so that we are able to experience the pure essence of our consciousness which is compassion.

However if you leave the dust on the mirror, the dust never goes away. The dust can stay on the mirror for ages and ages, for eons and eons. One must take action to wipe the dust from the mirror. To remove the dust requires action or practice.

Loving Kindness and Compassion Prayer

We have to cultivate meditation, reflection on loving kindness and compassion in order to remove all of the incidental obscurations and bring about the complete awakening to our innate nature which is compassion.

There are numerous forms of practice in Buddhism regarding the cultivation of loving kindness and I would like to share two of those meditation methods with you. One is called The Four Immeasurables.

May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.

May all sentient beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.

May all sentient beings never be separated from happiness and may they be free from sorrow.

May all sentient beings remain in the state of equanimity in which the duality of friends and enemies has been transcended .

This is a prayer that you can recite. Most Buddhist practitioners in the Vajrayana tradition recite this prayer a few times every day, in the morning, at noon, in the evening—3 times, 7 times or 21 times.

It is very good to memorize this prayer. It is a beautiful prayer. You don’t have to be Buddhist to recite it. You can be Christian, Muslim and still recite this prayer because there is no Buddhist terminology, ideas or philosophy. This is a beautiful inspiring prayer and that helps you to generate loving kindness.

For example, I myself am a very poor meditator and a very poor Buddhist practitioner. Often I discover that I am falling back into my old tendencies and propensities and sometimes it is quite easy to experience anger towards another human being. Not so much hatred.

It took a long time for me to resolve layers of my hatred that I have been storing for many lifetimes but sometimes I experience anger.

This happened a few days ago. Currently I am living with 3 dogs and recently one of the dogs pooped in my kitchen. So I brought all three dogs into the kitchen and I was ready to practice some kind of improvisational interrogation method.

I looked at their faces kind of asking who did this you or you? They knew that I was angry. They were definitely experiencing this negative vibration from me. Suddenly I remembered this prayer and started reciting it.

In that moment I felt this tremendous sense of loving kindness toward them and I experienced bodhicitta, ultimate love for 4 or 5 minutes. It collapsed. It doesn’t last a long time.

I experienced a sense of love and forgiveness and inner peace simply by reciting the prayer. That’s all I did. For some reason when I was looking at the dogs they looked very nervous and frightened and that opened my heart and lead me to the recitation of this simple Buddhist prayer called The Four Immeasurables.

I recommend that all of you recite this prayer a few times every day of your life, especially when you feel angry, confused, emotional. When you feel that your life is in turmoil, recite this simple prayer and you will feel your whole heart opening to loving kindness and forgiveness.

You will experience spiritual awakening right there simply out of reciting the prayer. When you recite the prayer you can concentrate on the meaning. It doesn’t require any formal previous studies or research of Buddhist teachings.

The talk continues here.

References for Further Reading

Introduction to Buddhism www

Mahayana and Vajrayana schools of lineage: www www

The Four Immeasurables www

Photo by Indi Samarajiva

Filed under: Blog Posts, Meditation & Mindfulness

The Mindfulness Technique in Practice

mindfulness-2The technique of mindfulness is typically described as “being aware of the present moment”.

But what does it really mean? What is this awareness of the present moment? How can we be aware and why?
Where can we find these answers? Are they in books?

No matter how precise and profound intellectual explanations are, they can`t sufficiently explain reality, which exists beyond the mind. Also the experiences of others are their own, they are not ours. And if we just think about mindfulness – we are only thinking about it.

To understand mindfulness, you need to be mindful. There is no other way of knowing it, then to actually experience it.

If we wish to be aware, we need to understand that we are living in an imaginary world, and that we need to wake up to reality – through the use of our senses and our mind.

Keep Observing in a Detached Way

This is the key to staying in the now. Then add to it your firm willpower to stay aware in an impartial way and the door of higher perception will open to you. Remember not to go along with your thoughts, which can distract you from staying in the now.

Watch your chattering mind, direct it when needed. Try to see all, that you can see. Become perceptive and alert to what is going on in this fleeting moment of time.

Feel and know that you are the Observer. There is a lot to explore…

Find out how mindfulness is much more than a “practice” – it is the way of life – a wonderful and a superior way of being.

Awareness is natural and simple. To be successful, your efforts to wake up psychologically need to be sincere and serious.

For instance, if you wish to be aware of your sense of vision – simply look carefully with your eyes, so that you can clearly see your surroundings, as well as knowing, that you are just seeing.

The time to wake up psychologically, is always now.

Is this World just an Illusion?

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one” (Albert Einstein)

Everything is relative, of course. The world we see depends on the state of the world and our capacity of seeing.

Everyday, we have around 50 000 of thoughts affecting our perception and shaping our vision of reality. What matters however, is how we deal with it.

Spiritual reality is often believed to be fake and is ridiculed by those who tend to be satisfied with their status quo and believe that there is no real value in things beyond their habitual perception, driven by self-glorification, seeking different pleasures, accumulating wealth, etc.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (William Shakespeare)

The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5).

But even modern science, which is still based solely on materialistic beliefs, regularly makes discoveries that show that our world is multidimensional and the reality is incredibly complex. The sad irony is that while many great scientists are sincere seekers of the spiritual, their establishment tends to have its own agenda, far removed from genuine spirituality.

The immortal universal and divine message, the knowledge of which has been passed down throughout the history of mankind in many forms, is that our human capacities are limited, but at the same time are enough to allow for an amazing inner transformation. Yes, we can become a greater part of a greater reality. That is why we are here.

If you can perceive clearly through your five senses – then you can perceive, more or less clearly, what is going on beyond them.

If you keep progressing with your internal work, then you can dramatically increase your capacity of observation to a much greater level, and consequently, your whole life can become more meaningful and real.

In a way it is similar to climbing a mountain. When you start at the bottom, you can not see the top – it can appear as though the summit does not exist! Climbing is hard and risky, why even bother going there, why not simply read a book or watch a movie about other people doing it?

But when you actually attempt the climb, whatever drives your heart there, gradually, if you do it well – you will get closer and closer to the top of the mountain. The higher you climb, the more you see the surroundings from a higher perspective, the more you know the mountain and yourself.

What is the Importance of Mindfulness?

The Spirit is locked within matter for a reason. The spark of light is mixed with darkness, so it can fight it, transform it, and eventually, become the Great Light.

Each sense has its own limitations; they are given to us to develop our consciousness within their framework, with the aim of discovering true freedom and other spiritual qualities.

It is impossible to find true peace while indulging in passive indifference and laziness; it is impossible to find true love while daydreaming in lust and passion.

All spiritual virtues, always appear from awareness.

We are not in awareness to prove something to others. It is between us and the universal Spirit, and sometimes, our awareness can help others to be less selfish, too. Our hearts are deeply connected with each other in a profound way, beyond any physical, emotional or mental boundaries.

Have you ever asked yourself seriously, the profound existential question: “Who am I?”

If truly aware, we lose the sense of “I”, “me”, “you”… All becomes one. That is where we can find our true identity and can truly connect with each other. That is when we can grasp the meaning of the Koans such as: “Who is the one, that is aware?”

“Is there a teaching no master ever preached before?’

Nansen said: “Yes, there is.”

“What is it?” asked the monk.

-“It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not things.”

“How can I see into my true nature?”

Nansen replied: “That which sees into is your true nature.”

Being aware is a challenge, unless you do successfully a lot of spiritual work and crystallize the right conditions for your active consciousness to continuously manifest.

How long can you remember to be aware? How long do you wish to be aware? Who are you? What are the consequences of living your life while being psychologically asleep and governed by the subconscious?

If you are looking for the deeper meaning of life, then give the mindfulness technique some serious and sincere practice. Take your time and investigate for yourself how it really works.

Resources for Further Reading

Getting started with Mindfulness: www

The hidden price of Mindfulness: www

Book “Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world” by Dr Danny Penman and J. Mark G. Williams: www

Mobile app: Mindfulness Coach: www

UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: www

Photo by Drewpiter

Filed under: Blog Posts, Meditation & Mindfulness

Bikram Yoga

people dancing on a beach

people dancing on a beachThe aspect of Bikram yoga that sets it apart from other yoga types is that this is practiced in a heated room. This yoga type consists of 26 yoga poses done in a heated room with a 105 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. This, of course, will cause the yoga doer to sweat a lot.

Each pose is done twice and sustained for a certain period of time. However, there are many reasons why people practice this kind of yoga.

The heat enjoyed by Bikram yoga doers makes the human body more flexible and agile. This is the common reaction of first-time doers of this type since they may find themselves doing poses that they were unable to do before.

Each pose is said to stretch the different muscles, joints, and ligaments of the human body. It also strengthens these different body parts. The body is also said to be more flexible when in a heated environment.

A person who is interested in practicing this type of yoga should remember to drink lots of water and fluids before and after the yoga sessions. This is because doing yoga in a heated room often leads to sweating a lot. The heat is also said to cleanse the body and aids a person in weight reduction and muscle development.

It frees your body of toxins and enhances blood circulation. People with chronic health problems or other ailments that practice this type of yoga claim that their health conditions have improved upon doing this type of yoga regularly.

The name “Bikram yoga’” comes from its founder Bikram Choudhury.

Photo by: Hernán Piñera

Filed under: Blog Posts, Glossary