The purpose of this practice is to develop the ability to see oneself and others as worthy of unconditional love and kindness. Loving-kindness can be cultivated through meditation/contemplation, which conditions the mind for non-hatred.
Sit in a comfortable posture in a pleasing environment. Gently close your eyes and practice intelligent breathing (as previously discussed on page 000) for five minutes to develop a basic level of concentration. Then, open your eyes and study the following narrative.
Once you understand the nature of this sample contemplation, come up with a narrative in your own voice. Write it down in a similar format to the sample narrative and then read it, reflect upon it, or meditate on it as frequently as you like, especially when you are feeling dejected or irritated.
Always begin your contemplation by acknowledging your shortcomings and realizing the need for cultivating loving-kindness. An example:
“I love my spouse, my children, my father, my mother, my teacher, my countrymen.
“I have loving relationships with many people.
“But I still don’t feel there is real love in my life.
“I feel so because I often get irritated and angry. I kind of feel that I am not satisfied with life.
“Also, when I do something for family or friends I expect something in return.
“Why do I have these expectations?
“I sometimes even hate the same people I love so dearly.
“Do I really love them or do I just have selfish affection for them?
“My love seems impure.
“It must be so because hate, anger, aversion, and resentment still arise in me.
“When they arise, I feel miserable and tired.
“Hate, anger, aversion, and resentment are truly evil things. They bring pain and suffering not only to me, but also to those who are near and dear to me.
“There is a great danger in hate, anger, aversion, and resentment. This danger must be removed so that I may develop real love.
“For that, I must cultivate loving-kindness.
“I know that when I am established in loving-kindness I will be able to see all beings worthy of my love and kindness, unconditionally.
“The contemplation that I am going to do now is the way to develop loving-kindness because it will generate the volitional force along with mindfulness of loving-kindness, and eventually this will reflect in my physical, verbal, and mental actions.
“Let me now begin the contemplation.”
Observe silence for a minute, allow yourself to feel the enthusiasm that has arisen, and then begin contemplating as follows.
“May I be free from hate, anger, aversion, and resentment.
“May I seclude myself from all sorts of aggravation, irritation, annoyance, and anxiety.
“May I become more agreeable with others so I can develop real friendship.
“May I become gentle and amiable towards all those with whom I come in contact.
“May I help others and participate in their welfare.
“May I become so loving and kind that no trace of ill will remains in my heart.
“May this loving-kindness pervade my entire being.
“May I thus become happy and healthy.
“May I become free from pain and suffering.
“May I live in safety and joy.
“May I live an auspicious and prosperous life.
“May I live in peace.”
Repeat the entire contemplation from top to bottom as many times as you can in a five-minute period. Then remain silent and feel the pleasantness that arises due to continuous remembrance of the states of loving-kindness directed towards you.
Do not react to any thoughts of doubt, suspicion, low self-esteem, guilt, remorse, and worry that arise during the period of contemplation. The ego might say, “Don’t be stupid. Don’t be crazy. Don’t fool yourself,” and so on. Don’t give in to such thoughts. Keep going back to your repetitions. Continue until you begin to feel good about yourself. In the beginning, you may need to continue longer than five minutes to generate a pleasant feeling. In any case, give wise attention to the pleasantness of the feeling as the emergence of loving-kindness. Concentrate on that pleasant feeling, become familiar with it, and let it energize your state of mind.
Then, through contemplation, start extending loving-kindness to your children, spouse, parents, friends, and so on, in that order (or follow another order that reflects your liking). It is important to start with someone you love deeply. You may want to start with your children.
“May the arisen loving-kindness in me extend to my children.
“May they become happy and healthy.
“May they become free from pain and suffering.
“May they live in safety and joy.
“May they live an auspicious and prosperous life.
“May they live in peace.”
After repeating the above six lines for about five minutes, remain silent and give wise attention to how pleasant you feel towards your children. Concentrate on that pleasant feeling and become familiar with it. After a few moments, repeat the same six lines for your spouse until you begin to feel good about him or her. Repeat longer than five minutes if needed. The key is to generate a good feeling about your spouse. Then, repeat the process for your brothers and sisters, and so forth. At the end, contemplate as follows:
“May the loving-kindness in me extend to those I know and to those I do not know.
“May the loving-kindness in me extend to my enemies if they exist.
“May the loving-kindness in me pervade the entire universe.
“May all living beings become happy and healthy.
“May all living beings become free from pain and suffering.
“May all living beings live in safety and joy.
“May all living beings live an auspicious and prosperous life.
“May all living beings live in peace.”
Remember to develop loving-kindness towards yourself first, then towards those who are near and dear to you, and then towards others. This is the easiest and the most natural way.
For further meditations on loving-kindness, see upcoming book, "The Elements of Love" being published by S.R.I. Publications.
Copyright 2008 SOUL Research Institute
Soul Meditation M47
In your life, you may have encountered evildoers so bad that you simply cannot develop loving-kindness towards them. For such people, cultivate compassion because it is easier to do so. Why? Because compassion makes you see the evildoer as someone who is diseased and suffering, thereby removing your anger and resentment of the highest degree.
Let us say you simply detest your competitor who sued you unfairly and brought tremendous harm to your business, you, and your family. You cannot even stand the sight of him and you feel that there is no possibility of ever cultivating loving-kindness towards him. Now, let us say, one day you find out that your competitor has been diagnosed with an extremely painful fatal disease. How will you then feel about him? Most likely, your anger and resentment towards him will reduce, because you will now see the same person as someone who is diseased and suffering. In other words, a bit of compassion will arise in you.
When we notice physical diseases, extreme poverty, and any other such physical conditions in others, we generally feel compassionate. What if we were to notice another’s stupidity, meanness, unjust and unfair behavior, and animosity as that person’s disease (although mental)? We will stop reacting with anger and resentment and start acting with compassion.
The purpose of the following contemplation is to cultivate the habit of seeing suffering (or disease) in others so that compassion can arise. These sample statements are derived from my personal practice. After you understand their nature, you must come up with your own voice.
Begin by thinking about someone who is evil, someone you simply cannot stand. As unpleasant feelings start to arise, begin contemplating as follows.
“This person is suffering from mental diseases.
“He is suffering from greed, hatred, delusion, moral recklessness, restlessness, and shamelessness. But unfortunately he is not aware of it.
“He does not know he is generating unwholesome karma that will certainly bear unwholesome fruits.
“No one escapes the grip of karma.
“Although already suffering, this person is going to suffer even more pain and agony due to fruition of the evil karma.
“Even though looking happy and powerful right now, he is making grounds for his own suffering.
“Just as a thief looks happy, healthy, and powerful before his arrest, not knowing that one day an arrest will happen and result in his painful imprisonment, this person, even though he is looking happy and powerful right now, will certainly bear pain and suffering.
“He is destined for untold misery.
“His evil deeds will only create evil destiny.
“He is unaware that his actions are the mark of suffering.
“His current victory and his powers are worthless. They are, in fact, taking him closer to a painful future, which is certain.
“It is unfortunate but it is unavoidable.”
You will now begin to notice the subsidence of unpleasant feelings and the arising of peaceful feelings due to compassion. You heart will open up. At that time, start contemplating (as in a prayer) as follows.
“May this person become aware of his evil actions.
“May he realize the evil nature of his deeds.
“May he realize the harm he is doing to himself and others.
“May he become wise.
“May he not generate more evil karma and may his pain and suffering be reduced.
“May he become truly happy and not suffer.
“May he live in peace.”
As you contemplate like this, compassion will take root in you. It will manifest as non-meanness and hold you back from resorting to force, anger, violence, and revenge towards the evildoer. Due to this non-meanness, your sorrow or fear will significantly vanish and you will become peaceful.
If after such contemplation perfect compassion still does not arise, then recollect the greatness of compassionate masters, like Jesus or Buddha. For example:
“Jesus was such a compassionate master. He showered compassion on his own persecutors, who crucified him. No one could take away his peace. No one could make him fearful. He proved, how magnificent, how excellent compassion is.
“Buddha was the epitome of compassion. His compassion permeated everything and subdued his opponents, hostile cousin, hostile pundits, a murderer who attacked him, and the wild beasts that lived by his side in the deep forests. Because of such compassion, there was no possibility for the arising of meanness in his presence.
“Compassion is so powerful, so peaceful.
“May I be inspired by these great masters.
“May I become compassionate towards the evildoer.”
At the end of contemplation, remain silent for a while as you enjoy the feelings of peace.
Having discussed how to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion through contemplation, we can now talk about their combined application in daily life. But first, note the fact that loving-kindness arises when you see others as lovable. So, it is very easy to arouse it for yourself and dear ones, and very difficult to arouse it for a hostile or evil person. Compassion arises when you see others as being diseased and suffering. So, it is very difficult to arouse it for yourself (because you generally don’t want to see yourself as suffering or diseased) and very easy, almost natural to arouse it for a hostile or evil person.
Knowing this, when someone is angry at you arouse compassion for that person first and then let loving-kindness seep in. On the other hand, when you are angry at someone you don’t like, arouse loving-kindness for yourself first and then let compassion seep in. In this way, together, let compassion and loving-kindness engulf you and others in all life situations. Let goodwill, welfare, friendliness, non-hatred, non-meanness, and peace prevail at all times and at any cost.
Soul Mediation M48
When it comes to eradicating hatred, anger, resentment, meanness, and so on, the elements of loving-kindness and compassion can do wonders. But when it comes to eradicating jealousy and envy, you need to add the third element of love to your arsenal: gladness.
You can cultivate gladness by simply remembering and contemplating other people’s successes. Start with a person who is very dear to you and who is always glad and very accomplished, or by remembering someone who is always cheerful and brings smiles to you. This person could be your sweet little child, your accomplished adult son, your spiritual teacher, or your best friend. Then, follow up with other successful people who may not be near to you, but who are glad and successful. Finally, remember successful people of whom you are jealous or envious. In that order, remember and contemplate other’s successes. Here is a sample:
“This person is really a happy being.
“He is always smiling, always so cheerful.
“He is, indeed, glad.
“I feel so happy when I think about his successes.
“I feel so happy for him. I feel such a joy.”
Become mindful of pleasant (joyous) feelings that will arise due to wise remembrance. Then mentally iterate what you are feeling. For example:
“Oh! This joy is so wonderful! It is so excellent!”
Now, contemplate as follows:
“Just as I feel happy about this person’s success, may I also feel happy and glad about Mr. Jones (a person you envy).
“May I appreciate his success and accomplishment.
“May I feel joy in that.
“May I become glad.”
Repeat this contemplation for all other people, one by one, in the order specified earlier. Once you are developed and established in gladness, extend your gladness and let it extend out and permeate your world by contemplating like this:
“Just as I am now feeling glad, may all human beings become glad.
“May there be no envy, jealousy, discontent, or boredom among beings.
“May they all derive joy from others success.
“In this way, may all beings be gladdened in their heart.”
At the end of contemplation, remain silent for a while as you enjoy the feelings of appreciative joy.
Soul Mediation M49
Once you start cultivating loving-kindness, compassion, and gladness, you will begin to rise in love and never again fall in love. Eventually, equanimity (the aptitude of oneness) will arise of its own accord. It will then help you break down all the barriers and make you impartial, unprejudiced, and neutral towards all beings, including yourself. You will no longer have any friends or enemies. You will no longer love someone more than the other. You will no longer have expectations of any kind. You will care less for gifts and rewards. You will simply become neutralized due to transcending all differences and discriminations. Your heart will expand immeasurably and become space-like. You will be impartial towards all beings and all formations and yet all encompassing. You will experience blissfulness, peacefulness, ease, contentment, and a sense of accomplishment.
Although oneness arises naturally out of the other three elements of love, you can also cultivate it through contemplation and expedite its development. So, if you want to attain oneness (especially all those fantastic mental states that come out of oneness) sooner rather than later this is a practice that will accelerate your progress.
Remember one of your acquaintances whom you neither like nor dislike, or someone about whom you have a neutral opinion. Then, remember other acquaintances, your friends, and your dear ones. Think about yourself at the end. As you remember each one in that order, contemplate as demonstrated here.
“This person is performing the karmic acts that will bear him fruit.
“His wholesome karma will bear wholesome fruits.
“His unwholesome karma will bear unwholesome fruits.
“The law of karma is the ultimate ruler.”
Then, remember the next person on your list according to the prescribed order. Repeat the preceding contemplation for this individual and each one who follows. At the end, contemplate:
“The rule of karma is the same for all of us.
“It has no barriers.
“It is just and fair.
“In view of this law, there is really no difference between the acquaintances, the friends, the dear ones, and myself.
“In a way, all are equal.”
Remain silent for about a minute, absorb the mind in reflection, and then resume your contemplation.
“Let karma rule.
“Why should I like and dislike people based on their deeds?
“Why should I be prejudiced about people?
“Why should I become interested in some and resent some?
“Why should I be craving to make some people happy and some people miserable?
“That is not wise.”
Remain silent for about a minute, absorb your mind in reflection, and then resume contemplating as follows.
“All beings are ruled by their karma and they all are bearer of its fruit.
“This is now certain.
“It is now my understanding.
“It is now my wisdom.”
Remain silent for about a minute, become mindful of peaceful feelings, and then resume contemplating by mentally iterating what you are feeling. Here’s an example:
“This wisdom is so peaceful.
“I feel such stillness inside now.
“I am neither feeling a craving nor resentment towards anyone.
“There is neither a painful feeling, nor a pleasant one.
“There is neither joy nor sorrow.
“There is just this sublimity and bliss.
“This feeling is really extraordinary.
“This must be the experience of equanimity.
“This equanimity is most excellent.
“May I become established in equanimity and thereby abide in peace.
“May all beings establish themselves in equanimity and thereby abide in peace.”
At the end of contemplation, remain silent for a while as you enjoy the feelings of serenity and peace.
Soul Mediation M50
Even though all four elements of love (meditations M46-M49) cannot be developed equally at the same time, they should be all practiced together to develop various aspects of perfect living among other beings. First, the aspect of non-hatred, goodwill, and friendliness should be developed, because without the removal of hatred, ill will, and selfish affection love really cannot occur. In other words, unless the element of loving-kindness is well developed we cannot even enter the realm of love.
Once loving-kindness is developed, the aspect of human suffering becomes evident, which means compassion has arisen. Compassion promotes the removal of human suffering. Once loving-kindness and compassion are developed, gladness arises by being able to see successes of beings and by not having envy, jealousy, and aversion (boredom) towards others. Once all three aspects are developed, equanimity arises due to balance, detachment, impartiality, and neutrality towards all beings. In this way, even though all four elements are practiced together, loving-kindness is prominent first, then compassion, then gladness, and finally the equanimity, in that order of significance.
The significance of each element reduces as higher and higher aspects of love are developed. The significance of loving-kindness reduces as compassion is developed, and it further reduces as gladness is developed, and it becomes insignificant as equanimity is developed. This reducing scale of significance is similar to transcendence and not to irrelevance.
Now let me briefly explain how exactly these four elements of love evolve and lead us to perfect way of living here and now.
When we are thoroughly established in loving-kindness, we become the beauty of the world. How? By becoming adorable, lovable, and non-repulsive just as a beautiful thing is.
While we are abiding in loving-kindness, we appreciate the beauty of the world and, in return, the world appreciates the beauty of our being. If we do not get stuck in our own beauty or in the glory it brings to us, our love continues to evolve. Soon, with the base of loving-kindness, we begin to clearly see the suffering of others and it moves our heart. Our love now matures to such an extent that we now only think of alleviating others suffering, because, at this stage, we look through and beyond people and things, and notice the common underlying phenomena of human suffering. It is like expanding our awareness and noticing not just the beautiful lotus but also the non-beautiful mud that it is rooted in. It is also like seeing the space that surrounds the lotus as more beautiful than the lotus, because space is devoid of decaying and perishing, and because space is not rooted in anything non-beautiful. At this stage, we transcend the beauty of the world and its grasping. The world of beautiful feelings and things, the world of pleasures no longer grips our consciousness. Our love (that was dominated by loving-kindness) now becomes predominantly compassionate.
Once we are thoroughly established in compassion, it makes it possible, through contemplative practice, to not envy anything or become jealous of anybody. We begin to feel glad when others succeed. We begin to rejoice more when others are happy, because, we see others’ underlying suffering due to our purified and penetrative vision. It is like becoming glad when a terminally ill child gives us a smile. This gladness is infinitely more blissful than the happiness that arises out of the physical beauty of a healthy child’s smile. It is so because this gladness is based on compassion, which is generated by realizing the terminal condition (the suffering) of the ill child. This gladness is supported by compassion and not by pity or sorrow.
The arising of gladness is like realizing that the happiness or bliss is the quality of consciousness and not the quality of materiality. The experience of gladness is like connecting with others at the level of consciousness and not at the level of matter. It is like penetrating space (that surrounds the lotus) and apprehending the underlying non-material reality of consciousness that sees the lotus. At this stage, we completely transcend the materiality aspects of the world. The world of matter no longer grips our consciousness. Our love now becomes predominantly blissful.
Once we are thoroughly established in gladness (bliss), we abide in this world at the level of consciousness. We perceive everything in terms of consciousness. Consciousness becomes our point of reference. When we deal with a hostile person, we don’t look at a person being hostile. We look at person’s hostility as hostile consciousness. Similarly, an angry man is not seen as a man with anger, but as anger consciousness. A kind man is not seen as a man with kindness, but as kind consciousness. The entire world is seen as the play of consciousness. Our own actions are seen as the arising and cessation of various states of consciousness.
In light of such purified and penetrative vision, we do not react, of course, to unwholesome situations. But neither do we react to wholesome situations. We are no longer moved by pain or pleasure, sorrow or joy. At this stage, we transcend the karmic (mental) aspects of the world. The world of karmic mind no longer grips our consciousness. In this way, our gladness leads us to oneness. Our love now enters the state of equanimity.
Once we are thoroughly established in equanimity, it is impossible to react to anything—good or bad. There is neither reaction nor karmic action. We become peaceful. The peace of equanimity is infinitely more sublime than bliss. It is so because this equanimity is based on gladness, which is generated by blissfully conscious consciousness. This equanimity is supported by gladness, not by indifference, apathy, or coldness. This sublime equanimity and the worldly equanimity (mind-control, self-restraint, material tolerance) of ignorant, worldly-minded people are like the opposite ends of the line of infinity. The understanding of sublime equanimity is beyond the reach of non-meditators.
The arising of sublime equanimity is like realizing that there is truly nothing else beyond consciousness. It is a realization that there is no being, no personality, and no fixed entity behind consciousness. It is a realization that consciousness does not belong to anyone. Consciousness is empty. Consciousness is just a phenomenon.
The experience of equanimity is like connecting with others at the level of emptiness or nothingness and not at the level of mind or self-consciousness. It is like seeing all as a bundle of consciousness that is empty of separate selves and of ego. It is also like penetrating consciousness itself and apprehending the underlying non-self reality of all beings: soul. This state of egolessness, of perfect love is worthy of our pursuit. It is perfect because nothing else remains to be perfected. Nothing else remains to be done.
At this stage, we completely transcend the material aspects of the world as well as the mental aspects. The world of mind and matter no longer grips consciousness because consciousness now is totally purified. Our body continues to exist in the human realm because it was born there, but consciousness simply abides in the heavenly realm. And we begin to live as if we are in this world but not of it.