Sample Topics for Contemplation
Brahma Viharas : Unconditional Friendliness or Loving-kindness (Metta)
Brahma Viharas : Compassion (Karuna/Anukampa)
Brahma Viharas : Gladness or Appreciative Joy or just plain Joy (Mudita)
Brahma Viharas : Equanimity (Upekkha).
The following topics and themes are just to get you started…
As well as considering the dark side – if any – of these topics and how they may have brought suffering into our lives; it is essential to also reflect on the bright aspects that have directly affected our recovery and our being.
Loving, being Loved and Loneliness…
“It is not that we go out into the world with a capacity to love others greatly. This too we know in ourselves, that our capacity to love is limited. And it has to be completed with the capacity to be loved, to accept love from others, to want to be loved by others, to admit our loneliness and to live with our loneliness because everyone is lonely.”
Source: ‘Choosing to Love the World‘ by Thomas Merton (p163)
Boulder: Sounds True Inc. © 2008
Typically, we tend to judge ourselves and be quite critical and harsh in our self-assessments, identifying with the negative thoughts and feelings that arise in our minds.
Loving-kindness is the experience of having friendly and loving relationship towards ourselves as well as others.
The experience of loving-kindness towards ourselves is perhaps as simple as bringing a friendly attitude to our minds and bodies.
: Noah Levine (p61)
New York: Harper Collins © 2007
In modern Western societies, happiness is often equated with the maximization of pleasure, and some people imagine that real happiness would consist of an interrupted succession of pleasurable experiences. This is far from what the Buddhist notion of sukha means. Sukha refers to an optimal way of being, an exceptionally healthy state of mind that underlies and suffuses all emotional states, that embraces all the joys and sorrows that come our way. It is also a state of wisdom purged of mental poisons, an insight free from blindness to the true nature of reality.
Authentic happiness can only come from the long-term cultivation of wisdom, altruism, and compassion, and from the complete eradication of mental toxins such as hatred, grasping, and ignorance.
Source: ‘Why Meditate‘ by Matthieu Ricard in a feature in Fall 2010 edition of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
Embrace the difficult and painful…
It is always easier to hate and blame than to understand and embrace the difficult and painful.
Source: ‘Compassion : listening to the cries of the world‘ by Christina Feldman (p49)
Rodmell Press © 2005
How wonderful you are in your being
I delight that you are here,
I take joy in your good fortune.
May your happiness continue.
Source: From an 18th century Sri Lankan text translated by © John Peacock
A place every day for a little rejoicing
So there is a place every day for a little rejoicing, a rejoicing in one’s own good fortune and good work. And when we practice this – even in ordinary daily life – it comes so naturally to rejoice in the good fortune and good qualities of others.
Source: ‘Encouragement Towards Awakening‘ : Bhante Bodhidhamma (p107)
If you feel anxious or unhappy, you know you can wait for this to pass – you do not need to fix the anxiety or the unhappiness immediately by taking drugs or alcohol. When some situation does not go the way you want it to go, you do not feel powerless or aggressive and turn to intoxicants, but you look at what you can learn from this or how you could understand it in a different way.
Source: ‘Let Go : A Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits‘ : Martine Batchelor (p111)
Somerville MA: Wisdom Publications © 2007
Peace requires us to surrender
our illusions of control.
We can love and care for others
but we cannot possess
our children, lovers, family, or friends.
We can assist them, pray for them, and wish
yet in the end
their happiness and suffering
depend on their thoughts and actions,
not on our wishes.
Source: ‘The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace‘ : Jack Kornfield (p162)
Bantam Books, New York © 2002
This life is but a play of joy and sorrow
may we remain undisturbed by life’s rise and fall.
I care deeply about you, but you are the owner of
your actions and their fruit, and sadly I can not
keep you from distress.
Source: From an 18th century Srilankan text translated by © John Peacocke
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”
Source: Carl Jung
“Equanimity’s strength derives from a combination of understanding and trust. It is based on understanding that the conflict and frustration you feel when you can’t control the world does not come from your inability to do so, but rather from the fact that you are trying to control the uncontrollable.”
Source: Sharon Salzberg
We make a Commitment
We make a commitment to each of the five precepts – as we understand them to be – and we commit to continually pay attention; to our motivations, to our reactions, and to our evolving understanding of a life of Loving-kindness.
[If we lose the power of attention, we lose the intensity and richness of true connectedness with the moment.]
Source: ‘Loving-kindness : The Revolutionary Art of Happiness‘ by Sharon Salzberg – p241
The Commitment to Compassion
The commitment to compassion is an inner and outer journey.
You are learning to radically alter the course of your heart and mind, moment to moment.
Fear, judgement, and anger still arise, but you can refrain from wallowing in them.
Christina Feldman ‘Compassion : Listening to the Cries of the World‘ (p49)
Rodmell Press © 2005
Despair is a landscape we visit many times in our lives.
What did I do to deserve this?
When you are able to stop saying,
Why have these terrible things happened to me?
And can say,
Why not me?,
you have taken the first steps on the path of healing and compassion.
Christina Feldman ‘Compassion : Listening to the Cries of the World‘ (p20)
Rodmell Press © 2005
Bitterness & Hatred
To live a life pervaded by bitterness and hatred is like being locked in a burning house…
…and then to remember that you hold the key to the door in your own hand.
Christina Feldman ‘Compassion : Listening to the Cries of the World‘ (p64)
Rodmell Press © 2005
“Your hand is not long enough to reach out to everybody”
Luangpor Charoen Parnchand – 2nd Abbot of Wat Thamkrabok
In the morning when you wake up
In the morning when you wake up, you reflect on the day ahead and aspire to use it to keep a wide-open heart and mind. At the end of the day, before going to sleep, you think over what you have done. If you fulfilled your aspiration, even once, rejoice in that. If you went against your aspiration, rejoice that you are able to see what you did and are no longer living in ignorance. This way you will be inspired to go forward with increasing clarity, confidence, and compassion in the days that follow.
Source: ‘From Always Maintain a Joyful Mind‘ © 2007 by Pema Chödrön
Everyone Needs to be Liberated
“Once we feel toward all other beings the way we feel for those we love dearly in this life, we will not just seek our own benefit and leave nothing for them. Looking carefully, we will understand that everyone needs to be liberated and find everlasting happiness just as we do. With this insight we will be able to develop bodhichitta, the aspiration and willingness to help anyone. Enacting bodhichitta is the main practice of a bodhisattva.” (Pages 79-80)
Source: Ringu Tulku, ‘Daring Steps Toward Fearlessness – The Three Vehicles of Buddhism‘