How do you cultivate loving kindness?

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How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 09, 2010 3:45 pm

Simple question:

How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Throughout the day when I'm just walking or taking a breather I think, "May all beings, without exception, be free from suffering and its causes."

When I eat something I often think, "May all beings be free from hunger."

When I light incense for the altar I say, "May all beings purify their body, speech and mind."

Little things, but over time it all adds up hopefully.
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed Jun 09, 2010 3:51 pm

Huseng,

This may sound silly, or crazy.

But to cultivate loving kindness I continuously, habitually, and without forethought put myself in another's shoes in virtually every interaction or every thought I have of another.

And then the rest seems to follow.

Kind wishes,
Laura
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Yogicfire » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:23 pm

Excellent question. Right to the core of Buddhist practice....

I think that firstly you have to love yourself, and open up like a flower. We can talk about this and that, but if you don't really love and accept yourself fully -unconditionally- then the amount that you can give out is going to be limited, and a shadow of what you have residing within you, waiting to break out!

Obviously, it is a path and a practice in itself to cultivate this loving kindness for yourself. It will take time and patience, and probably many years/life times for you to become fully open. This is why the metta bhavana meditation always starts from sending love to yourself, as where else can it start from...? The seeds of kindness can grow though, with some effort and care, as you tap into your own beauty and limitless potential.

Little things, too. I always try to look right at people in all kinds of situations - shopping, waiting in the line, passing by someone, almost knocking over someone, whatever. To look at them and to smile you are recognising their essential human nature, their intrinsic buddha-nature in fact. Like a mirror, the loving kindness can grow and build up when you interact with others, and you can feel that loving connection within and without, as you see that everyone around you is a part of the same love, the same hurt, and the same potential for enlightenment. The curtains move aside for a moment with that smile..

Obstacles and habit patterns like stubbornness and anger also give you a good idea of where you are in your practice, and how much you still have to learn. The ability to let go of your stubborn refusal to be wrong, or your deep sense of injustice at any number of imaginary problems, can allow the space for the flower within to grow, and get you out of your head, and in touch with the real you.
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:58 pm

Yogicfire wrote:Obstacles and habit patterns like stubbornness and anger also give you a good idea of where you are in your practice, and how much you still have to learn. The ability to let go of your stubborn refusal to be wrong, or your deep sense of injustice at any number of imaginary problems, can allow the space for the flower within to grow, and get you out of your head, and in touch with the real you.


Living in Japan as a foreigner is good for what you just outlined here. :rolling:
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:20 pm

What I try to do, personally, is to be more conscious of my reactions to people and situations...."this person irritates me," "I really don't need to be talking with you, I'm so busy", "I don't want to be here, I want to be doing something else," "you're wrong, and I'm going to show you you're wrong," etc. I try to note these habitual responses; being aware of them helps to defuse them.

So instead of just habitually tuning someone out, we recognize that we're tuning them out, and then make an effort to listen. Or instead of getting carried away by impatience, irritation and ego, we try to observe these things as they arise and then let them go. It also works with more pleasant habits, such as desire.

I don't claim to be very adept at any of this, but it does seem to help, and best of all it can be practiced all the time. As Yogicfire wrote above, our patterns of thought and behavior are a big obstacle. We kind of have to learn to get out of our own way.

Metta :)

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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby catmoon » Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:41 pm

Just on a quick read-through, it looks to me like we have a number of people who are progressing along the path very nicely indeed. I'm just hoping they don't get so far ahead of me I lose sight of them!
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Dexing » Fri Jun 11, 2010 1:49 am

I've always seen the recitation of various phrases on loving kindness to be somewhat artificial, although a good practice nonetheless.

The real question for me is how to realize loving kindness as a quality of our own nature and let it shine, rather than try to "make" it with various techniques.

Loving kindness is a function of wisdom as essence. So to give rise to genuine loving kindness that does not arise and fall away with our sporadic practice of techniques, we must open our wisdom.

For this I find it more useful to study Prajna teachings and let loving kindness simply do what it is- function. Wisdom & Love are non-dual Essence & Function.

So, the deeper one's understanding of Prajna, the more genuine loving kindness, which means it becomes our natural disposition as it is based on profound insight rather than a practice technique.

:namaste:
nopalabhyate...
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby noclue » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:38 am

Dexing wrote:I've always seen the recitation of various phrases on loving kindness to be somewhat artificial, although a good practice nonetheless.

The real question for me is how to realize loving kindness as a quality of our own nature and let it shine, rather than try to "make" it with various techniques.

Loving kindness is a function of wisdom as essence. So to give rise to genuine loving kindness that does not arise and fall away with our sporadic practice of techniques, we must open our wisdom.

For this I find it more useful to study Prajna teachings and let loving kindness simply do what it is- function. Wisdom & Love are non-dual Essence & Function.

So, the deeper one's understanding of Prajna, the more genuine loving kindness, which means it becomes our natural disposition as it is based on profound insight rather than a practice technique.

:namaste:


:thumbsup:

And is your good advice working for you, Bro?
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Clueless Git » Sat Jun 12, 2010 9:19 am

Ngawang Drolma wrote:Huseng,

This may sound silly, or crazy.

But to cultivate loving kindness I continuously, habitually, and without forethought put myself in another's shoes in virtually every interaction or every thought I have of another.
And then the rest seems to follow.

Kind wishes,
Laura

Don't sound silly or crazy to me Laura :)

For myself I probably only consciously practice loving kindness when someone does or says summat unnecesarily unkind to me or someone else.

It's something I read by TNH that I think upon. Was about how people only do things that are hurtfull to others because they are hurting inside themselves?

Kinda like if someone does summat nasty you want to take their hurt away rather than hurt them back. Sort of a desire to bring an end to a cycle of suffering rather than to perpetuate by either feeling hurt yourself or hurting back or do nothing about it and simply walk away.

My only other thought is that sometimes real deep loving kindness does not always have the appearance of being gentle. A good film to watch on that subject is 'The lost Children of the Buddha'. The ex Thai boxer monk whom the film is about shows quite a bit of 'tough love' to the kids he takes in but in a VERY buddhist way.
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Luke » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:34 pm

Huseng wrote:How do you cultivate loving kindness?

What an excellent question! Merely wishing a few kind things for others won't do that much. It's much more effective to do real meditations on loving-kindness and to actually perform kind actions, such as giving money, food, or clothing to homeless people, etc.

Although we each have different present capacities for loving-kindness due to past karmas, we can each improve our capacity for loving-kindness through specific meditations that do this. And deep love is part of the true nature of our mind's which we are working to experience.

In Tibetan Buddhism, there is the practice of lojong which contains many different types of meditations to develop love and compassion. Some people mistakenly believe that lojong is a "low" practice or merely a preliminary, but there also exist more advanced and profound lojong meditations, and according to my lama, it can serve as an entire path to enlightenment by itself.

I will share with you the two basic lojong meditations which I practice, since it's nothing super-secret and no empowerments are required to practice them:

Lojong meditation 1: Awakening an inner stream of love


To start, just get into your meditation posture, relax, and breathe naturally for a bit. Then think of something which makes you feel a great deal of love. It could be a special memory, something you read, a religious symbol, a movie, etc. Spend a while focusing on this feeling of love and trying to increase it. It might take a while to discover what the best thing for you to trigger this feeling is. I often prefer to think about cute animals as my starting point because I distrust most people. If you're thinking about a special memory, you want to feel that you're actually reliving it.

Anyway, once you've got this inner feeling of love, think of someone you are very close to and then try feel this same intense feeling of love for them. Think of many people in this category and do the same thing. Then think about people who you're friendly with, but not quite as close to and do the same thing. Then think about strangers, people whom you've never met, and do the same thing. After you've practiced this for a while, then you can also try this with people who you consider enemies or who you have difficulty with.

Lojong meditation 2: Atmospheric Tonglen


Breathe naturally and observe your thoughts and feelings the same way that you would sense the atmosphere of a room. If you notice a negative thought or feeling (it could be a specific angry thought or it could be something more mild such feeling a bit of pain in your legs or feeling sleepy or having a headache), imagine that you breathe it in when you inhale. Imagine that this negative thought enters your body from all sides (if you want, you can visualize it as dirty, black smoke), and once it's in your body, it dissolves, is purified, and disappears (the true nature of our minds is strong enough to purify any amount of negativity).

When you breathe out, imagine that you breathing out bright, clean, positive energy which comes out of your body from all sides and benefits all beings (including yourself) and makes them happy.

If you are truly feeling so positive for a while that you observe no negative thoughts during some inhalations, then don't do anything but continue to observe your thoughts, and on the exhalations, breathe out postive energy as I described before--don't try and force yourself to have a negative thought artificially.

The important thing is to simply observe your thoughts without judging them. Don't think, "Oh I have such mean thoughts. I'm a bad person," or "I have no bad thoughts right now, so I'm a great person." The thoughts that you encounter don't matter. All that matters is continuing the method of the meditation.

Of course, there are also many other variations of tonglen and many other types of lojong meditations.
************

Dexing wrote:I've always seen the recitation of various phrases on loving kindness to be somewhat artificial, although a good practice nonetheless.

Yes, I used to feel the same way because I first became interested in Buddhism by reading Zen books in which the emphasis was always on "Wisdom! Wisdom! Wisdom!" and "Emptiness! Emptiness! Emptiness!" When I first encountered lojong meditations, my first reaction was, "Eh, are these even 'real' meditations?" But later I began to see the value of them as gradually became a kinder person (although I still have a long way to go) and I also noticed that the lojong practices also enhanced my shinay (shamatha) and vice-versa: wisdom and compassion are complementary.

Dexing wrote:So, the deeper one's understanding of Prajna, the more genuine loving kindness, which means it becomes our natural disposition as it is based on profound insight rather than a practice technique.

Okay, true. This is the Zen approach and there's nothing wrong with it. If someone has the ability to generate a substantial amount of loving-kindness through wisdom practices alone, then that's great.

However, the problem is when people get stuck in the mindset of "Oh, I only want the essence. All this compassion and merit stuff is just lowly and inferior nonsense" and they end up developing neither wisdom nor compassion, even though they could really benefit by doing compassion meditations which would bring them closer to succeeding at the wisdom meditations they are interested in.
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby noclue » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:04 pm

Luke wrote:....

Okay, true. This is the Zen approach and there's nothing wrong with it. If someone has the ability to generate a substantial amount of loving-kindness through wisdom practices alone, then that's great.

However, the problem is when people get stuck in the mindset"Oh, I only want the essence. All this compassion and merit stuff is just lowly and inferior nonsense" and they end up developing neither wisdom nor compassion, even though they could really benefit by doing compassion meditations which would bring them closer to succeeding at the wisdom meditations they are interested in.


That's always the problem, Bro! [boldface mine]

And when we also add "I" and "want" to the stuck mindset (and can they ever be apart?), then you may be quite right - lowly methods to cure lowly sicknesses.

And isn't that where we all are?
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby zengammon » Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:11 pm

You might enjoy Joseph Goldstein's recent dharma talk on the subject, which you can stream here:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/6221/

Page should look like this, if I've linked it correctly:
2009-04-23 Satipatthana Sutta - part 42 - The Noble Eightfold Path: Right Thought, Part Two - Lovingkindness 49:46 Download Stream
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:03 pm

zengammon wrote:You might enjoy Joseph Goldstein's recent dharma talk on the subject, which you can stream here:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/6221/

Page should look like this, if I've linked it correctly:
2009-04-23 Satipatthana Sutta - part 42 - The Noble Eightfold Path: Right Thought, Part Two - Lovingkindness 49:46 Download Stream


That's a great suggestion, Zengammon. Goldstein's the real deal.

Dharmaseed has many talks by him -- the "browse by teacher" search function will bring them all up.
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby noclue » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:14 pm

No one has mentioned death yet.

Contemplate death for a few minutes every day, imagining the last minutes of your life, imagining how it is the same for everyone, even the person you hate.

The bodily pain, the loss of control, the fear and anxiety before the unknown, the meaninglessness of all the various nonsense we engage in now. This makes it easier to let go and once we let go (to some extent) of "me" and "mine", it is natural to pay more attention to "you" and "yours", however delusory these may be.
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Yogicfire » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:17 pm

noclue wrote:No one has mentioned death yet.

Contemplate death for a few minutes every day, imagining the last minutes of your life, imagining how it is the same for everyone, even the person you hate.

The bodily pain, the loss of control, the fear and anxiety before the unknown, the meaninglessness of all the various nonsense we engage in now. This makes it easier to let go and once we let go (to some extent) of "me" and "mine", it is natural to pay more attention to "you" and "yours", however delusory these may be.


Nice post. Very insightful. Short and sharp, but right to the point!

I suppose the only real barrier is in the instance where people truly 'hate' rather than 'dislike' someone because of some terrible action, and they would actually probably believe that them passing away would be the best for everyone!
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby zengammon » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:49 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
zengammon wrote:You might enjoy Joseph Goldstein's recent dharma talk on the subject, which you can stream here:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/6221/


That's a great suggestion, Zengammon. Goldstein's the real deal.

:smile: I like him too, and enjoy his talks, even though I practice in the Korean Seon tradition.

take care.

john
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby zengammon » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:55 am

Some study and contemplation of Karma and Rebirth leads naturally and inevitably to an impulse to loving kindness.

To me, it seems hard to cultivate it from 'the outside.' Rather, it manifests naturally from insight and understanding.

John
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby White Lotus » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:34 pm

:namaste: Luke,
thank you for the Lojong meditations!
with best wishes, from White Lotus.
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby BFS » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:40 am

Great posts!

I tend to look at my own experiences. I know first hand how powerful karma and delusions are, how much attention and effort it takes to even notice, never mind work with my own mental afflictions!
I have met with the teachings, I have a tool-box full of tools, I have wonderful teachers and dharma friends, but it is still tough often times!
So for me, stopping and remembering how difficult it is to work with my own mind is a very powerful way to generate understanding, warmth, patience and loving kindness toward others.
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Re: How do you cultivate loving kindness?

Postby Heruka » Tue Aug 31, 2010 2:32 am

love is very subjective, and i sometimes wonder how our modern ideals about love have been shaped by ancient bards, writers of courtly love, romeo and Juliet and Danielle Steele and so forth. it seems love did not exist prior to those times in culture.
Is love a modern invention, a set of preconceived conditions?

is Buddhist love of the unconditional kind, the flip side of the conditioned side?

how to remain unattached to love?

to say you love someone or something, is to win them or it over to your side, it is an basic act of selfishness.
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