Tonglen Meditation

Have you ever heard of Tonglen meditation? 

This is a buddhist practice where we try to become more compassionate and more connected with our own suffering, and the suffering of others. The world is full of suffering, and we can choose to be aware of it. Sometimes when people ask me for money on the subway, I look them in the eye, and I tell them no. Sometimes I see people getting frustrated with people who ask them for money.  In a place like Shanghai this is organized, and people are often in places where there are many nice restaurants, and attempt to make people feel guilty for having enough to each at nice restaurants, and it is easy to understand how this can make people frustrated, but here is a different idea of how to approach the idea of people who are having a difficult time.  

Following is an excerpt from Pema Chodron on the Shambala website.

“We begin the practice by taking on the suffering of a person we know to be hurting and who we wish to help. For instance, if you know of a child who is being hurt, you breathe in the wish to take away all the pain and fear of that child. Then, as you breathe out, you send the child happiness, joy or whatever would relieve their pain. This is the core of the practice: breathing in other’s pain so they can be well and have more space to relax and open, and breathing out, sending them relaxation or whatever you feel would bring them relief and happiness. However, we often cannot do this practice because we come face to face with our own fear, our own resistance, anger, or whatever our personal pain, our personal stuckness happens to be at that moment.”

When we are aware of the difficulty and suffering that occurs in the world, we can cultivate compassion and become more caring people. When more people care about others, and are willing to recognize the suffering of others, the world becomes a more beautiful place full of deeper love and joy.