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Meditation on the four immeasurables - compassion

The four immeasurables - compassion

November 2003

Again we sit in the right meditation posture and we reflect today on compassion.

In order to cultivate compassion it is very important to know what are the defilements, and if we engage in the defilements what are their consequences. Firstly, I will give an example. Imagine that we are extremely angry towards someone we dislike. Imagine how we are feeling at that moment. When we get so angry everything just closes up, all the wisdom, kindness, gentleness, everything. There is only one thought at that moment - that we want to destroy that person. It is very powerful, very forceful. It is good to just feel what it is like when we are so angry towards someone.

We now think of how that person is feeling at that moment. They may be fearful of us, or they may be angry back at us. Imagine both ourselves and that person, in that moment. It is like hell for both. So the more we stay in that feeling it is very unpleasant, very painful. The more we understand the feeling or recognise it, then the greater the possibility to get to know how it arises and how to get out of that situation or feeling. That we label as compassion. We feel other beings' anger, their feelings. We feel kind towards them - we want to feel kindness towards them. We realise that they are suffering.

In this way, if we meditate on anger and the consequences of anger, it helps us to have a strong sense of aversion to that feeling. A feeling may arise that "I am never ever going to create this anger for myself and others again, and not only for this moment".

Just think about the hell beings. No one created that type of experience for the hell beings. Whatever beings experience in hell is the manifestation of individual minds. So what kind of mind manifests into that kind of hell being? It is nothing other than our anger. So if we really understand the consequences of anger then we realise how serious it is, far more serious than other negative beings that may cause problems for us. Just imagine that the whole world is against us. The worst thing that the world can do is just take our life. However, the whole world cannot put you in the hell realms. But our own anger can only lead us to a place that is worse than hell. Due to this, the most fearful thing, the one that will cause us the most pain and suffering, is our own inner anger.

Likewise, if others get angry, they too have the same consequences. So when we meditate on that, our own anger as well on other people's anger, then it may help us to better understand what is compassion. For example, if we know someone who has committed a crime and we know that person is going to go to prison, to a maximum security place, we understand how stressful mentally it will be, how physically uncomfortable it will be for them. If we really get to understand how they are feeling, then compassion arises for that person. In the same way, whenever our anger arises, that anger creates criminal things. That anger leads us to a type of samsara hell prison.

Therefore, the reality is that no one makes us suffer. We make ourselves suffer through our ignorance, our anger and out of attachment. These are the cause of suffering for self and others. Through this compassion meditation, it is very important to wish self and all beings to be free from these three poison minds of ignorance, anger and attachment, and to wish everyone to be free from all types of suffering, such as the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change, and the suffering of condition of all phenomena. As long as we engage in all these three defilements, it is impossible for one to be free from suffering. When we are free from these three poisons, it is impossible to find the suffering. In this way, the only way to be free from suffering is to be free from the cause of suffering. To be free from suffering we need to develop, from our heart, a genuine sense of compassion.

When we generate compassion, it is important not to mix it with our ego, thinking that 'I' have a better knowledge about compassion. This is again a misinterpretation of compassion. Compassion is how much you are helping that person who is experiencing or creating the cause of suffering. That person is greatly kind to us as they are giving us an opportunity. Without that person experiencing suffering we may not have this opportunity to generate compassion. So compassion is not only destroying the three poison minds, it is also destroying our self-cherishing mind, our ego mind. The more ego we have, the more we remain childish. Being a practitioner means being more mature, and not based on ego. The reason that it is called childish is because we are easily made happy and upset. If we have a high ego, we are very easily made pleased as well as upset. In this way, it is time to open our heart, to show a genuine sense of feeling and wanting to help ourselves and to help others. The type of feeling which naturally arises without this ego we call compassion.

In this way we will spend some time meditating on compassion. We reflect upon the fact that it can overcome all our defilements, particularly our anger.

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