One of my favourite meditations, that I have been practising for many years and teach often, is on the kindness of others.
We can take 10 to 15 minutes to slowly and mindfully contemplate:
All the material conditions we possess, enjoy and make use of come to us through the activities of countless living beings.
We were born into this world naked and empty-handed, and from that time onwards we have been given everything we need to sustain our life. Without this constant supply of supportive conditions, provided by others, our life would immediately come to an end.
We normally take for granted simple pleasures like a cup of tea, but this depends upon the activity of so many people who have grown, picked, prepared, packed and transported the tea for our own and other”s enjoyment.
Those people, in turn, depend upon so many people for the supportive conditions within their life. We cannot find a beginning to all these links of humanity.
As my teacher, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, says in the book Eight Steps to Happiness: “We are all inter-connected in a web of kindness from which it is impossible to separate ourself. Everything we have and everything we enjoy, including our very life, is due to the kindness of others. In fact, every happiness there is in the world arises as a result of others kindness.”
Further, our ability to improve our good qualities or inner wealth of love, compassion, patience and wisdom depends entirely upon the people in our life.
For example, we cannot learn to love without others to love nor be patient without others to challenge us.
Gradually contemplating these points gives rise to a profound feeling of interconnectedness, and any feelings of loneliness and isolation fade away. We develop respect for them and a feeling of humility arises. We keep focusing on this feeling for as long as possible.
When it fades we can renew the contemplation in order to renew this special feeling. Hold this feeling for the last few minutes of the meditation.
We maintain this recognition of the kindness of others within our daily life. This brings immense benefit for ourself and others.
Geshe Kelsang adds: “One of the advantages of humility is that it enables us to learn from everyone Just as water cannot collect on mountain peaks, so good qualities and blessings cannot gather on the rocky peaks of pride. If instead we maintain a humble, respectful attitude towards everyone, good qualities and inspiration will flow into our mind all the time, like streams flowing into a valley.”
Gen Pagpa is the Resident teacher of Tushita Kadampa Buddhist Centre in Rondebosch and teaches regularly in Cape Town, Khayelitsha, Milnerton, Simon”s Town and Somerset West.
The next drop-in meditation class in Somerset West is Sunday October 16, from 10am to 11.15am, and the course title is “The wisdom of letting go”. The classes provide a practical overview of meditation, and helpful advice on how to develop and maintain a peaceful and happy mind. During the class there are two guided meditations, a teaching and opportunity to ask questions. All are welcome.
The venue is 14 Oleander St, Heldervue, Somerset West, and the cost is R60, and refreshments will be served afterwards. For more information, call 021 685 3428 or visit www.meditateincapetown.org