Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
February 20 1990
To follow on a few weeks ago when we were speaking about love, the technique that was taught called the mother meditation, it is effective and if you have some interest in it, it should be done a few times so that you actually generate the feeling or work into those feelings. Because psychologically speaking, there is lots of warm fuzzies in there. In touching base with those, you will change your perspective and I think generally you will be more appreciative of kindness and compassion. When you are more conscious of it, then you are more conscious of trying to repay it. Whether to your parents or just to other people, it is the same. That is a proper meditation that is taught quite extensively so do it periodically if you want to reap the benefits of having a more what is called heart warming love.
To continue, in developing love and compassion, let's say one did that meditation quite a bit, or even one decided to be more loving and kind person, it is nice but I think that often we will come up with quite hard people. And if we practice love and compassion because we think it is a good thing to practice and agree that all spiritual paths taught it and such, those reasons might be good, but with a hard object such as a difficult person, sometimes it is hard to understand why I would want to love that person. Other than maybe I am on a superiority trip. And my love can overcome you and therefore I can defeat you, so to speak. It could be some egotistical reason to go and then love that person. Because you want to prove that your spirituality is better than their obnoxiousness, whatever! Seriously you can play a game like that with yourself. And especially if they know that you are spiritual practioner and go out of their way to be obnoxious because they know that. And you always try to be kind and weepy eyed with them or something. You are so compassionate! It gets very sick then, you know. I think it could be a lot of trouble.
There are some very real and very clear reasons why love and compassion are very appropriate emotions. And even more so with difficult people. There are crystal clear reasons why it is appropriate to have a kind attitude towards a difficult person. So you should have in your collection of defenses or understandings, some of these reasons then, have them fairly clear in your mind. Because they will help you. And although the reasoning is not the experience, the reasoning helps deal with these things. And as you become more realized in that technique, it will be natural for you. You do not have to think about it any more. You spontaneously experience the understanding why as you are involved with the person.
One of the reasons almost requires no intellectualizations whatsoever. As much as you can touch with yourself you can immediately understand why you can take the abuse that you can from someone else and you do not intellectualize about it. It is immediate and very real empathy with them alright? And then there are other reasons which require more of an idea behind them, more of a foundation of why an open minded attitude is the important attitude of experiencing happiness.
I have touched on two of them. One we will term as empathy. The second one is the deeper realization of the benefits of an open and kind considerate attitude. The first one has to deal with yourself and your own emotions and how you feel your emotions and what they do to you. So if you really want to have a power in this next technique which will give you a real sense of love with another person, in the sense that you take down all the barriers.
For example when you have someone who is difficult. There are those that we must relate to. For example, a co-worker, a superior in our working environment. Or even maybe a competitor in what we are involved with. We have to meet with these people time and time again. With them, if you don't have a well established practice which is you, isn't false, isn't a philosophy, it's you. It is very hard to deal with them. And this is from my own experience. When you meet a hard nosed person who for no reason is a bit rude to you, a bit abrasive. And you wonder where that person is coming from. I dislike you! I don't want you around! Why don't you just leave, just shut up! These sorts of feelings come in. And it is really quite spontaneous.
The point is then, to be able to be effective in those areas with power so you can look at them and look at the person in the eyes and say he, I know you! I know what is driving you! To do that, you really have to be in touch with yourself. And regarding that, I am talking about that principle which I have beaten the drum about quite a bit. Which is the desire for happiness and the wish to avoid suffering. The better you can appreciate that in your self, that you want happiness and don't want suffering. And by happiness, it is experiences when we have release of the previous limitations which are around us. Happiness in itself you can not say you are going to attain it. You do something to be happy! Rather, in life's experiences, you make a decision or move into a new area where there is warm opportunity. Or there is freedom. Freedom from the previous problem. So therefore that is happiness. Moving into those positions. Real happiness on a mundane level can never really be attained. Happiness is always dependant upon change. They say in the teachings that relative happiness is a fluctuation of the previous suffering. If it fluctuates a little bit, I am happy. All it is is a general fluctuation in the general pervasive suffering.
But when you think of happiness, it would be total freedom for your mind. Your body too! And that would be experienced in full enlightenment. So anything prior to that can be termed as a temporal experience of happiness in that it is only a temporal sort of solution. So we desire happiness. For example we are all sitting here right now. I would like you to get in touch with, as you are sitting there you have a little pain and you adjust it a little. You have to start to feel or be more conscious of being right now uncomfortable. And what am I going to do about that? So you begin to say I am going to that or this, or start to adjust my life so I don't have that problem. Like back pain, you do all kinds of things to avoid it and finally you even take days off of work to avoid it. So you do many things to avoid suffering.
So the first level is the physical body. Whenever we have a little bit of agitation we immediately try to adjust. To feel the emotions which goes there which says I cannot handle that, I want to et out of this thing! To feel the energy that is in there, and actually see yourself acting it out, if you catch yourself spontaneously or unconsciously acting it out, then you can say say he, it was pretty obviously intensive to make me do that. And I did it spontaneously, you know. Nothing premeditated! so you start to get in touch with the force of the emotions which surge through you.
If we move to a more powerful realm, our mind, so it is not physical pain any more. But look at our mind and how our mind acts when we feel we have a problem. Say there is a relationship problem. Problems with my teenage son! Sometimes when he goes out of the house, I wish he would get run over by a car! It would eliminate my problem! It's not my fault! ....That is the sort of thing. When it gets intensive enough, you sort of have those thoughts. What I am saying is that you have situations of suffering. Then look at all of the intensity that goes on inside of you to get out of that! There is a lot of force there! I would actually not sort of give a dam if he got run over! I don't know if I even contemplated the actuality of that thought, but it is a feeling that I have which then gets expressed in little particular thoughts. Please just disappear could be just the general wish in that. I want to be free. I feel very suffering and miserable right now because I have this things which is bothering me which carries a great deal of weight. I want it to instantaneously disappear. In our society a car accident would be a nice instantaneous way of having an out!
Look at your own emotions though. Try to see that there is a lot of emotional force in some of these things that happen. When we are unhappy with an object, we might becoming along this way and we see this person or whatever situation coming, and we will go out of our way, a block down this way, out of our way to miss that person. We will put that much energy in it. So get in touch with the fact of just how much you dislike suffering. How much you don't want to have that misery and suffering in yourself.
And as you start to become more conscious of the fact that you do, the antics you play to avoid suffering, and you have to start to look at each little aspect of our life. And it is really interesting. You play all sorts of games with people. The relations hip games are the ones which are the most fun. For example, you don't want to interact with the family so you act out I am grumpy. If I am grumpy enough no one is going to ask me anything!....And you get what you want. A little bit of freedom! What you have there is I want to be happy. I am going to rely on this technique and I am going to get the happiness, i.e. the freedom that I want. And so you do it1 You enact out grumpy because it is going to work for me. So you start getting in touch with those emotions. And also with the mind sets that go behind them.
If you understand first your own emotions , then you can understand other peoples emotions too. The point I am getting to is that the better you understand your own antics, if you can catch yourself at different times you will find the incredible antics that you will do to avoid suffering. To have happiness. Those two are synonymous. You do something to avoid suffering or something to attain greater happiness or freedom, it is the same thing. Just a different way to look at it. Try to catch the antics you do. Whether it is like you lie in bed, don't touch me,.... or I have a headache tonight dear, I am sorry! All the funny games we play. And if we were actually a little more in touch with where our feelings were, we would just say, actually I am just unhappy and I am trying to find a way of getting in a position where I can feel happier with myself.
The point is to get in touch with our feelings and what we do when it happens. It is like if you plug a hose into a bag and turn on the water. The water will come out at a certain point in that bag. In the same way,l you put the pinchers of suffering on yourself. You will act out a certain way. It is like that. So get in touch with how you act out, and also then, the intensity then that you will do it. You can invest a lot of time and high energy into that. So you have to relate that there is an emotional force there. A fervor there!
If you get that, and you find it in yourself, and you see how you do it. Like how long you will stay grumpy to get what you considered the space you want, like how long will you sit there in a blue funk about something to get everyone to back off far enough that then you feel I can relax and be happy. Oh,m it's all over now and I am sorry. I worked it out! What you do is you have enough time and space to feel good about yourself. If you can get in touch with that, then when you see someone else fly off the handle, you have a gut level relationship to them, and you can actually like them when they are being an absolute monster.
It sort of happens when you are off as a third person in a group. When you see someone getting angry ant another person, you can relate to their emotions and their unhappiness. And you can understand the reasonings for it. Particularly in a co-workers environment. You understand why they are doing it. Or when you have kids. One kid freaking out with another parent and you are an observer of it. You feel the emotions of the one. And you can know, hey , what they want is happiness. They don't want to be hassles with whatever is coming down. And then the other parent over there, actually have the same thing. They have the exact same ideas. For example they are slaying the child shouldn't act this way because it is actually anti social, maybe they are being obnoxious and they are unconscious of how rude they are, so in their mind they feel that they have to go and tell this to the child. So therefore that is the way of happiness because the child doesn't understand! Same thing. Animated parent, animated parent, animated spouse, whatever, the same thing is going on. The same dynamic is there. I want happiness, freedom, I don't want suffering.
The better you feel those emotions in yourself the better you can understand another person. And maybe even accept it. Even better than that, actually like them. It is because of empathy you can accept them. And if you can accept them, you can love them. It is not like there is any great dynamic there, like I say with the mother meditation you are actually getting yourself into the set of remembering your mother and getting very warm fuzzies. With this one you don't directly go at getting a warm fuzzy. But via empathy, you will get the same thing. A softer version of it, but a lot more acceptance. And as you accept this other person for whatever they are doing, you can love them easily. It is a really good technique and a very powerful one. It is termed as the equanimity of self and others. In the desire for happiness and the wish to avoid suffering, alright!
And in that little idea is an incredible amount of power and realization for you. And it will change you to a position to where if you did have a lot of love, it easily goes into that other person to whom you now have empathy with because you can understand them. Let us say you are trying to practice spiritual love and be this wonderful person. When you meet a horrible person, you can play this silly game which says that this highly spiritual evolved soul will over come this person. Sort of like my ego is going to beat out this other person. Instead of that one, what you have is I feel what you are experiencing right now. Right now you are angry, you are terribly depressed. And I have been depressed before. I have been in that sort of experience before. I know what that feeling is all about. The empathy automatically makes you feel at one with them, or accept them. Maybe you don't like it but you can accept it. If you know what your own emotions is, you can accept it in another person. And then if you love, your love can be very natural, without a false nature to it. Alright.
These are techniques to be worked out by yourself. I can only teach them. So if you want the technique to be powerful, do spend time, whether it is a week or so, just watching your own emotions. Watching how you act out something. The one I catch myself with is at work periodically. Then I am not really busy. I don't really want to do anything. I actually want to be left alone. But the manager walks down the isleway and I will start playing like I am doing something. I am not doing anything but I am playing out this game that says I am busy. Or I have found a little trick. Like you walk a little brisker. I am going nowhere. I am gong to the back of the store. And I walk a little brisker. He is busy. It is funny but that is the little game that you play.
We all play our little games. But I will actually spend time and energy investing into that particular activity. And it is completely fruitless activity. It is just to get that other person off my back. Maybe if I were more conscientious and aware, I would know that I have four or five more tasks to do at work and I would actually be busy all the time! But because I want to be happy, which is not to work to hard, be pretty lazy, then I have to play these silly little games.
Catch yourself in your own fully little antics. And if you can get some humor in there and see what you do to get happiness, freedom, then you will know, you will take the pride out of yourself a little. With that you can start to be more empathetic with people around you. And particularly when you get to deeper and heavier emotions with others, you can maybe become a little more open to let the other person ventilate. Very often we have this strong sense that we want to say what we want to say and our view of the world is right, and in doing that, we don't want to listen to what the other person says. And you can always tell when you are in a conversation when that person really doesn't want to hear what you are saying. Is when all they can do is talk about what their point of view is. What you have to do is to completely get it out, and then you interject. Of course they start off in their own point again. You know they are not listening to you at all. And then you can feel sorry for them because they are so closed minded.
There is whole series of things there and it only requires for you to know your own emotions and to know the intensity of your emotions and maybe how unconscious sometimes you become when you are suffering or when you want to act in a very narrow minded manner. Alright? So the more you are in touch with yourself the more you have the capacity to feel for another person. So that is the meditation for this evening.
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