Annual India Tours
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.
August 7 1990
We have moved through the mother meditation, equalizing self and others, and even a bit about exchanging self for others, then moved up to the series called giving and taking. And in that the technique is based on the disadvantages of being selfish. Essentially that if one has a selfish attitude one is setting one's self up to be hurt or to experience suffering. The more intensive the selfish attitude, the more strongly there is a possibility that things are not meeting our expectations and therefore we become unhappy, get aggressive and argumentative and rely on whatever technique that we felt appropriate to make the world again fit our projections.
That was one set of talks. And the second set of talks were on what was termed moving into a positive attitude and all of the benefits of that. In having a positive attitude then we are less prone to experience suffering. We are on a much more positive position. Actually in the Buddhist sense it is said is to be a source of all happiness. Because in relationship to others you do receive all happiness. And so if you become more conscious of that, then actually you have a greater handle on being able to be a happier person, experience more happiness in a day to day events, you will have a greater sense of fulfillment happiness, and your relationships with other people blossom. So a positive attitude is very important and a negative attitude creates nothing but suffering.
The practical meditation for that is the meditation which I touched on previously which is called giving and taking. And it has to rely on previously working with identifying a selfish attitude creates suffering, has to work with cherishing others is the source of much happiness in your life. If you have those clearly realized, when you do the giving and taking meditation, you have a very natural process which you can enter into which is comfortable for your mind. You should delve into that with your personal life and try to validate it, or if you have questions about it, go through them and try to feel it out. In doing it, try to be impartial and not to be too personal because if you get too personal about it then sometimes it seems like it is alright to be selfish and it is not alright to be loving. But that is only when you get a tight little selfish situation and normally it is based on previous experienced which have generated a very hard attitude. I we have a more open attitude we can see that there are opportunities for a different way of relating.
So the technique is used with the breath. It is called giving and taking with the breath. It is normally termed that you take first and then you give because if someone is unhappy, you can't give them something, you normally first have to accept them in their suffering. Like take their suffering on. And then you can give them happiness. You do not sort of go in and throw your arms and say you have got to stop doing this! First you have to say hello and how are you and what do you have to say to me! And then you let them talk for a little while, and when you have taken on some of their sufferings, in the sense of just allowing them to ventilate, then you can give something to them, alright! It is quite obvious that you would not want to walk in and lay your trip on them until they have had a chance to talk.
What you want to do at this point is actually nothing other than just your attitude. You don't want to worry about effective you are, or even that you are going to do anything. It is merely the attitude and that you have set up the situation of I am taking your suffering and I am giving you happiness. You try to do it in that way! Really you can do it. Like I am talking right now, you can think I am inhaling this fellow's ego trip and I am giving back happiness!!! You can do that as people are talking. And it helps!
Rather than being caught up with maybe that you are with someone who is unpleasant and rather than sitting there wishing I didn't have to listen to all of this garbage, you could sit there and have a very immediate thing that you could put yourself into! I am going to accept all of this person's heavily opinionated words, and I am going to give back quietude and listening. I am going to accept his thing. In that way you can be totally detached from being bugged by it. You immediately have something effective that you can do in the relationship. So it is good.
That is the process you want to get into. That of taking peoples sufferings which is being able to receive what they have to offer to you in the way of negativity, whatever, and you give back happiness. You can define happiness on a few levels. One is just being able to listen. That is giving someone happiness because it is giving them a chance to talk. Or if you can you give them comfort. Maybe you can give them physical comfort, like a shoulder, or maybe you can give them warmth which allows them to feel comfortable and let go of their negativity and their uptightness and their suffering and sorrow. Whatever! Just being there is a giving. If you are quite astute and you have some skill and means, you can give them some advice or something that helps them get their life together. So there are different levels. Or maybe you can give them some money, lend them your car, or give them a ride somewhere. But a first, don't worry about that. Worry about just the attitude. I am going to receive your sufferings and I am going to give them back happiness, alright?
To help that, as a meditation process, the traditional teachings say, is that you start with the six realms. The three lower realms such as the hell beings, the ghosts and animals. The three upper realms which is the humans, asuras or demi gods, and the god realms. And each one of those realms, because their minds are still gripped by ignorance, have suffering. And so you feel you take on their suffering.
My own teacher, Geshe Rabten gave one other object to be added in there, and that is yourself. You actually visualize yourself in front of yourself, particularly when you are in a very unhappy position, you say I am taking this person's suffering and I am giving them back happiness. And it is very helpful in helping our own sense of depression to be loosened a little. It is an effective method and it works. Especially when there is a lot of self pity or something, when you do this technique you actually stop having self pity! The next time you are depressed, do it! Just sit there quietly, thinking life is so miserable, and then visualize this very unhappy person that you are in front of yourself and think I am going to take your suffering away and give you happiness. And it works! It is an effective way to change the immediate experiences that you are having.
So that is the seventh object that you add to it. For the meditation I want you to move through the series of realms. In doing this, you mind becomes more used to that style of thinking. And for example, you talk about hell beings, we don't see hell, we don't really know if it is even existent, we have our doubts, hell is a being who is totally consumed by their delusions and is actually suffering viciously from them. You can use that as a definition for it. The literal hell in Buddhism says that every moment is excruciating pain for them! They actually live in a mind created realm which is their hell existence. You could say the main motivating energy of that hell is total paranoia. Their mind is totally paranoid. And they live in total fear. That then creates the hell. And if you were to think of them as they died and moved out of their body, at that point their mind creates all the visions of everything that they ever had a paranoia about. And they continuously experience one paranoia after another. And it is from a very negative mind that they continuously live in that type of an existence. Finally when they cease being paranoid or cease creating those kinds of hallucinations, then they can move out of a hell existence, alright!
What you can do in your meditation, is you start off taking a being in hell and think about what a hell would be! Like what would be hell for a human existence? What would be the mind of a human person in hell? Think about all of the incredible paranoia, fear, and the hellish emotions they go through. Very raw horrible emotions! And then you say I am taking your raw horrible emotions and I am giving back freedom from paranoia. Take the very intensive fear and giving you back courage! It is just your own creation of that realm, but the thing that is effective is that you are working in an area that you are not used to and you are becoming more familiar with the technique.
Then you can move to the ghost realm. Ghosts from the Buddhist perspective are suffering in the sense that they are hung up about a particular area. And that is why they inhabit a particular area. There are two types of ghosts, the abiding ghosts and the transient ghosts. The abiding ghosts take on a particular area and they hang out in that area because of the previous lifetimes heavy attachment to it, either negatively or positively. For example let's say a couple had a heavy investment in their property. And then they died, they could stay around this area for a long time, being very uptight that this area is like this. They would have to experience the next guy comes in with a bulldozer and knocks all the trees down! Well, they would be in an absolute hell seeing their property being destroyed. That is one type of hell being. And it also have to do with negativity. Maybe someone gets killed. Maybe they might live in that area for a long time with the anguish of having died a very horrible way! They sort of haunt that area!
On the other side there are transient ghosts! They are related normally with heavy delusion such as being a very lecherous person drawn to say seedy areas of Vancouver and they live on negative energy of people, full of lust and those things. Or people that are really hung up about money. Maybe they hang out around Las Vegas as ghosts! Get caught up with all of the greed and they live a very averous life. So greed is a great cause for ghosts. So in your meditation you would then think about people even in their own body, very incredibly desirous. I can visualize quite easily someone in a gambling table in Vegas who literally wastes hundreds of thousands dollars! It is a very hungry mind. In Tibetan they are called hungry ghosts because they are full of greed and in that way create a ghost like existence!
So meditate on someone who is totally consumed with greed or heavy passionate thoughts and really feel sorry for them. They are so totally clouded in that way. Maybe drug addicts would be a cause for being born as a ghost! And say, I am taking on your horribly anguished mind and am giving you back peace of mind. Taking on that suffering and giving back happiness.
The technique is actually that you take your own greedy, negative selfish mind. And if you think about the delusions which create paranoia, if you think of the delusions which are based on greed, they are all based on a strong sense of selfishness. Paranoia is the most incredible sense of personal space. And everyone is very uptight about that personal space. A very uptight attitude! Greed also. It has to be if I just win, it is going to be so good for me! I want to get everything. Again, a heavy sense of selfishness in there. So what you do is in your heart you visualize a black spot which is your selfishness. And that selfishness, you can understand, is directly related to anyone else's selfishness. As much as you experience greed or passion in a negative way, you can see it in other people and you can know that suffering mind there! Or anger. So you create in your own heart your own selfish attitude. And when you draw on that other person's selfishness or greed, you draw it in. You feel it goes on your selfishness and crushes it. It softens it up and makes it not so rigid. And then you generate a warm feeling of love and you give back happiness to that person in the sense of peace of mind. And then again you absorb their negativity and make it hit on the black heart of your own selfishness. And generate a warm feeling and give back love and compassion. So that is the technique.
And then you think of the various animals. For example there are little horses out there. They have lots of different little suffering. They have flies which are always trying to get in their eyes, horse fly bites and things like that! They have to take the food that they get given. Rabbits live in fear and paranoia of getting caught by a hawk, cat or dog! They have a lot of sufferings. Birds have all kinds of sufferings such as mites. These are wild animals. They don't have anyone to put flea powder on them! They are exposed to the elements all of the time. They cannot go in a nice warm house and turn on the central heating. So again, you think about all the sufferings of animals. And pick out one animal. Take the fly buzzing around the room right now and make that the object. k This fly which has no brains which so ever, makes me hassled and everything, I take on your suffering in being a decrepit little fly and give you back happiness that you might take a good rebirth! So be creative! May this fly die and go to heaven! Get out of my house! Whatever, you meditate in that way.
Human realm. Well all the sufferings that any human ever experiences, you take those on and give back happiness. And make it an antidote to what they have. If they are caught up with anger, then give them peace of mind and a more open attitude. If they are caught up with greed, make their mind relax and make them feel satisfied with what they have so they feel more comfortable. If they are caught up with great pain with someone dying or something, you give them comfort and take away the suffering in their heart. Things like that. Again, inhaling their suffering, and it goes on your selfishness and hits your selfishness. And then you generate a warm feeling and give back love and compassion. Give back happiness. Again you can think that maybe, for people that die and such, that death is a great suffering, but you give back to them the thought that may they realize that life is impermanent and maybe they learn how to accept death. And then you take on their anguish and maybe strong grasping of someone's particular existence, and you give back an attitude which is open and caring. Feel that you give them back an attitude which accepts the impermanence of life.
And all of this works for you. Later times when maybe you are sitting around some where and you see some one suffering. And you think I am taking on their suffering and giving back happiness. And people maybe come and talk to you. Like I say. So just sit there. All you have to do is inhale their suffering and give back happiness. Really easy. And it changes your attitude. Like I say, put your mind into a track of being much more open, to be receptive. It gives you a technique. And you don't have to think a lot. Sometimes someone comes and sits there and you think you have to solve their problem! You try to ram rod advice down their throat. First, you maybe are not even hearing what that person has to say. So first just inhale their suffering and give them back happiness. Just openness. Maybe at some point you might be able to effectively say something to them. But right how just worry about inhaling their suffering and giving them back happiness. Or just receptivity on their part which is giving happiness to other people.
As for the God realms and such, I won't go into those. You have quite a bit of information. So delve into the hell realm and the thoughts you have about it. Hell realms which they way basically, hell realms are created by anger. Anger is a very negative way of dealing with the fear that one has. The only reason you normally get angry because you have a fear that other techniques are not going to work for you. So you get angry and beat it because you feel that if you beat the shit out of it, it is not going to bug me any more. It is going to do what I think it should do. So anger they say is the creation of hell because it normally has to do with fear of things not going the way you want them to so you make your mind very intensive about making it the way it should be. So anger is with hell.
Greed is to do with the ghost realm. And they say that blatant stupidity is the creation of the animal realm. And so in that way you can meditate on those delusions and what they create for those different beings. And as I say you inhale their suffering and give them happiness.
So we are strongly working in transforming our attitude and giving a very real physical thing. Inhaling and letting it hit on my own selfish attitude, breaks it up. And then, a much more open and lightened attitude, and gives back a lot of happiness. It makes you in relationship with the world around.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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