So, we know that compassion is one of four Brahma Vihara’s. It’s a very wholesome and important mental quality. It’s actually one of the fifty two mental factors. You may know that, according to some Buddhist scholarship, there’s only two fifty-two things that can be in the mind at any time, or ever. And the compassion is really a positive one.
And a— so, I’d like to, before we, kind of a little bit of a different compassion, guided meditation, I was talking to Joseph about why people are, find continuity in their practice and why sometimes they slip of the practice, you know, doing this retreat right now. And I asked myself, is it about intention, you know, why is intention, or why intention that you know that one thing that we’re always checking to see if we’re, if there’s some wholesomeness in our mind or if there is unskillfulness, right?
Right intention is knowing what’s in our mind and applying the right approach to whatever is in the mind. And he said, its intention, you know, wanting to cultivate the wholesome, and to uproot the unwholesome, but it’s also an element of determination. And I thought, one way to maybe enhance determination would be to talk about just briefly list some really positive aspects of compassion, about why you might want to develop it.
I think one reason to develop compassion is that it is a really wholesome response to suffering. So, as you all know, I’m sure, if you’ve even sat for a minute, that one thing we’re doing is opening to the range of our experience and a lot of that is suffering, and you know, we often tend to either try to turn away or we can get blocked or we could get contracted, get constricted around, opening to suffering.
And, if we generate compassion or build up that positive mental quality. Actually, opening to suffering is the proximal cause for compassion to arise. If you have that, you know, as a habit of your mind and heart, and compassion actually lets you relax with suffering. It just lets you relax and open up to suffering. And that’s one way to have suffering move through us, right? It’s to just relax into it, and to feel it if it wants to be felt. And then, it’ll be like everything else will arise and pass away.
So, that’s one good reason to develop compassion, because of the excellent response to the suffering in the mind and heart. Another reason to cultivate compassion is because it alleviates burnout. A lot of us might be working in the helping profession—teachers, or therapists, or yoga teachers, mindfulness teachers, and we can really a lot of suffering, and it can affect us deeply.
And generating compassion in response to seeing all of that actually can really have motivation to work. It helps alleviate burnout. And, one reason why I really love compassion is, because—it actually, a lot of us also do a lot of social justice work, right?—anti-racist work and anti-homophobia, sexism, ageism, ableism, and responding to all of these –isms essentially the manifestation of greed, hatred and delusion at the institutional level, compassion is really wonderful response to that. And it allows us to be really effective, more effective in our work.
And finally, compassion feels really, really good. Isn’t that funny? That’s one of the most interesting things about practice, I think that, two opposite things can be true at the same exact same time. We find out. So, you can be opening to your own suffering and feel just the depths of that and letting it work through you. And holding it in compassion, and be really, really happy while opening to your suffering. It’s an interesting sensation.
So, those are some reasons why I’m hoping that they would water your seeds of determination for compassion. So, I’d like to lead a little bit of different compassion for practice. I don’t know if you know the work with ___, but, this is a – guided compassion.
So, just sit comfortable as we do the Brahma Viharas. We don’t want to be too uncomfortable. And I’d like you to bring to mind the benefactor. I, and I’d like you to bring to mind an archetype of benefactor. Someone who in your heart really has deep, is the – of compassion. For me, I actually often bring in the Buddha himself.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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