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Meditation on the four immeasurables - loving kindness

The four immeasurables - loving kindness

October 2003

We will now do a short meditation on loving kindness. Again, in a practical way, some of us may have come here to do this meditation for one's own happiness. This is an example of looking for our own happiness. We do many other things in this life for one's own happiness. We never get out of our samsaric habit. We are always concerned for ourselves day and night. The Dharma teaches that every suffering, every unhappiness, arises when we are trapped in the habit of doing things for ourselves. No matter how long we do things, it is never going to be enough. We are exhausted in our search for lasting happiness because we are doing it the wrong way, we are looking in the wrong place. The more we think we are doing things for self - that is the cause of our problems. Different opinions and different arguments and all sorts of thoughts arise, so this is no way to make us happy.

We ask the question is there any way to find happiness? The answer is yes there is. The way is to change our attitude to dealing with our difficulties. So maybe we can try. We are always thinking that this person makes me unhappy. Instead of thinking too much on that, wish that person to be happy, and see how this goes. The Dharma says that this approach works. We can gain happiness only when we help others. When we show kindness and warmth to others, this is actually the way to gain happiness for ourselves - particularly to that person that we have many difficulties with. In fact, it is to that person that we need to show the greatest kindness. This is because if we show them kindness, then that person may stop doing negative things towards you. In that way there is no such difficult person out there. This is the best solution to make a better life for ourselves and others.

However much we wish to be happy, others also have the same wish. However much we wish to not have suffering, then all other beings also have the same wish. If we don't consider this and are always concerned about our own happiness, then we can't care about others. We are always thinking about how we can get rid of our unhappiness but we don't care about others. If we live our lives in this way, it doesn't matter if we practise or don't practise, our life is still lived with the same habit. The true practice is to change ourselves. The reason that we practise the Dharma is for us to improve; the reason that we practise the Dharma is for us to develop. For this we need to make some sacrifices, we need to change.

Similarly, if we have a problem with our diet - if we don't change our diet we stay unhealthy. We need to take the new diet that the doctor has recommended is good for our health. This is very important. We have such a strong habit. Even though we intellectually know how to develop our happiness, practically we can't change our habits. If we don't change, we aren't changing our feeling created by the habit. The habit is always being concerned for ourselves. Whoever makes us a bit annoyed we feel very uncomfortable with, and we treat that person with dislike. That is not the way to make ourselves happy. We are taking the medicine in the wrong way; it is not going to heal our existing problems.

The point of the Dharma is that we have to generate a kind heart for everyone. The result of kindness is a sense of true happiness. Without loving kindness it is impossible to have a true sense of happiness. When we are concerned for ourselves alone then our hearts are shut down, there is no way to practise kindness to anyone. We are very cool, there is nothing warm within us. If we are cold how can we make ourselves warm? We need to recognise that the main problem is that we are used to thinking that the other person has caused us this unhappiness, these problems.

With this understanding, we need to develop kindness towards them without conditions and prejudice of their background, race, wealth or education. Sometimes we have such high ego, we feel we are better than others. We may feel "I am better educated, I am wealthier" etc. Because of this negative attitude we are always looking down on other beings. This is the main creator of all our problems, not the other beings. As soon as we have the quality of thinking that we are important, then that is the main obstacle to practising loving kindness. In order to practise true loving kindness, we have to drop this ego mind.

We have to treat everyone as equal, we are all sentient beings. We are all wishing the same thing. There is no being that is better than another. In this way we reflect on our kindness to others with an understanding of the reason behind developing this loving kindness. It is compulsory that if we want true happiness, then we must develop this loving kindness. If there is no loving kindness there is a guarantee that no matter how wealthy or educated we are, it won't bring us any form of happiness. The more loving kindness we generate to other beings, the more we bring for ourselves. This is the right way to gain happiness through the practice of loving kindness.

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