A guided meditation by Ven. Ayya Khema
Will you please put the attention on the breath for just a few moments.
Look into your heart and see whether there is any anger, envy, dislike, rejection, worry, pride, ill will. If you find any of these or anything else that causes unhappiness and restlessness let these feelings and emotions float away like black clouds that are being dispersed by the wind. They are nothing but black clouds in the purity of your heart. Let them float away.
And take another look into your heart and see the wide open expanse, the space which is now ready to be filled with the warmth of love and the care of compassion. There’s nothing to obstruct, all you have to do is fill it with that warmth, that huge open space in your heart. Put compassion in it for yourself, for the difficulties you have had and are having, for the difficulty of being a human being—have empathy with yourself, brace yourself with compassion, fill yourself with the warmth of love.
And put your attention on the person sitting nearest you and realize that this person has exactly as much dukkha as you have yourself. Give that person the gift of compassion, of empathy, of embracing that person with a compassionate heart filling him or her with it and surrounding him or her with the warmth of love.
Now think of your parents, whether they’re still alive or not and whether you know it or not, they have or have had exactly the same dukkha as you yourself have experienced or are experiencing, nobody is immune. So the compassion in your heart reaches out to them, fills them with your empathy, with your understanding, with your acceptance, and surrounds them with love.
And now we’ll think of those people who are nearest and dearest to us that we might be living with and we might actually know their dukkha and instead of reacting to it, we feel with them, we feel compassionate care, wanting to help but mainly giving them the gift of loving compassion and we don’t expect to get the same in return.
And we think of our friends and acquaintances and relatives, anyone that comes to mind and we might know the dukkha they’re having or have had and if we don’t we can be sure everybody has it, it may not be great tragedy, it’s just the craving that is within all of us. And if we know it in ourselves, we can have that feeling of togetherness, of caring, of embracing, and reach out to these people with a heart full of love and compassion.
And we think of those people who are with us in our everyday life, our neighbors, people at work, people in the offices and the shops which we meet, anyone that comes to mind that is part of our daily living and even though we may not know their personal lives we can be sure that complete peace, complete happiness is escaping them because we know how it is with ourselves, and so we embrace them with the compassion and the love that comes from understanding and feeling that we’re in it together.
And we think of a difficult person in our life or more than one if we have them or if they’re not personally difficult for us, then those people with whom we disagree about their thoughts and actions, or if we don’t find anyone difficult then anyone who finds us difficult. And we realize the dukkha that each person carries within because of our unrelieved craving, because of our way of thinking, and we can see quite clearly that the difficult person has exactly the same dukkha that we have - compassion, empathy, understanding, and acceptance arises and we can embrace that difficult person, put our arms around him or her and let him or her know that we understand and feel with them.
We open our heart as far and wide as we can and the compassion and the love can flow out of it to people near and far, first to all those who are assembled here. Everyone having their own personal dukkha but actually it’s universal, and so is compassion, our manifestation of togetherness, our showing of our understanding and acceptance and care and concern.
And then we go further a field. Let our heart reach out to all the people that are here. Everyone we have seen or those that we just know about or assume that they are here. And then we go still further a field to the people in the surrounding houses who are dealing with the same dukkha we do, and all that can help is love and compassion.
And then we go further to the cities, to the towns, the villages, people all over the country whether we know them or not, have seen them, have heard of them, we know they’re there and we also know that dukkha is part of existence. And having met up with our own and having found compassion in our heart for ourselves that compassion can reach out far and wide. It’s the only good foundation on which we can live together. And we can feel that this expands our horizon, it gives us a chance to loose some of our egocentricity and take as many people into our heart as possible.
We put our attention back on ourselves and we recognize the joy that comes from loving, from giving, from manifesting our togetherness with others, and seeing this joy within us we can resolve to continue to open our heart so that this joy remains with us. We have compassion for ourselves for all our difficulties rather than sadness about them or dislike. And we have love for ourselves rather than guilt or blame and with those two in our heart, so many of the other emotions will find more room there.
May love and compassion grow in all of our hearts.