Directing Our Compassion:
“When your love touches someone’s pain, it becomes compassion”. When someone dear to us is suffering, their pain can invoke a deeper sense of compassion within us, and our sense of love and gratitude grows.
In the Tibetan Book of Living & Dying, Rinpoche discusses the practice of Tonglen, as a prayerful act of directing our compassion towards one (or all beings) who suffer(s). In this meditation of compassion, the focus is on alleviating the suffering of one, or all beings.
In the Tonglen practice, we take on through compassion all the mental, physical, emotional suffering; and we give through love and compassion, happiness, well-being, peace of mind, and fulfillment. This powerful practice can help us with our loved ones who are suffering. Sometimes we can become blocked and unable to find sufficient love or energy to support our suffering loved ones. The Tonglen practice can not only open your heart and return you to a state of healing, but the practice will offer love, healing and compassion to your loved one who is suffering, and is the focus of the meditative practice.
As you meditate, imagine the person who is suffering and in pain. As you breathe in, imagine you are taking in all of their suffering and pain through your compassion; and as you breathe out with love, send your warmth, healing, love, joy, and happiness streaming out to them. “As I breathe in, I am taking on the suffering of my loved one; As I breathe out I am sending him/her love, happiness, and peace.”
Allow your compassion to embrace and encircle the one who suffers. In your practice, you may expand this embrace and circle wider to others who are suffering, to family, your community, or to embrace all sentient beings.
You may also extend this prayerful practice to yourself. The self practice requires that you “split yourself into two aspects”, one who is whole, complete, healed, filled with love, and peace; and one who is hurt, in pain and in need of healing.
As you breathe in, the whole and complete aspect of yourself opens the heart and takes in to embrace the pain and suffering you feel. In this moment, imagine that both aspects of you, open their hearts to complete compassion and healing. As you breathe out, imagine that the whole and complete aspect of you is sending healing, love and peace to the aspect of you that is suffering.
Mother Theresa, dedicated her life to serving the sick and the dying; and radiated the joy of giving and receiving. Her words describe the spiritual essence of Tonglen:
“We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in Heaven with Him at this very moment. But being happy with Him now means:
Loving as He loves.
Helping as He helps,
Giving as He gives,
Serving as He serves,
Rescuing as He rescues,
Being with Him twenty-four hours,
Touching Him in his distressing disguise.”
Taken from the Tibetan Book of Living & Dying, Ch. 12. by Sogyal Rinpoche.