Part 4 of 4, continued from Be compassionate by being the hand that reaches out to the injured knee
Cultivating compassion isn’t a goal. It is a process, a life-long process.
Understanding the concept of suffering helps us to better understand and develop compassion. Suffering usually has a negative connotation yet it is a natural part of living, our cyclic existence, samsara, the cycle of birth and death. It is the first of the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha. Suffering isn’t something to dread or reject because something good can come out of it. It is a blessing in disguise, if we know how to approach it and deal with it. Suffering can be good if we use it as opportunities for learning and our growth.
As we attain enlightenment, we naturally go through challenges, difficulties and problems. Often, it is our attachment that causes this. Attachment to things, people, places, situations. Non-attachment is also at the core of the teachings of Buddhism.
Meditation on Chenrezig
The practice of meditation is at the heart of the Buddhist traditions. It is aimed at attaining an enlightened mind, bodhichitta.
The Bodhisattva of Compassion is known as Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit, Chenrezig in Tibetan, Kwan Yin in Chinese, Kannon in Japanese.
Chenrezig is the embodiment of the compassion of all enlightened beings. Next to Buddha, Chenrezig is probably the most popular of all Buddhist deities.
Like Chenrezig, we all have unlimited compassion within us. We all have the innate energy of compassion; all we need is to tap into it and awaken ourselves and reconnect to its energy.
We can awaken and develop this potential by visualizing Chenrezig and contemplating on and reciting his mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum” (pronounced om mah-nee ped-may hoom).
The mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” in Tibetan script
A mantra is a sacred word or group of words, a sound, syllable or series of syllables, that contains mystical and spiritual power. A mantra is usually in Sanskrit and when recited or meditated upon, helps in purifying and transforming the mind. Chenrezig’s mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” contains the energy of compassion that is innate in each one of us.
In Awakening the Kind Heart: How to Meditate on Compassion, Kathleen McDonald explains the meaning of this mantra:
“Om symbolizes the enlightened state we wish to attain. Mani means jewel, and symbolizes the “method” side of the path: compassion, love, and bodhichitta. Padme means lotus, and represents the wisdom side of the path, which blooms beautifully and fully out of the mud of samsara. Hum indicates inseparability; it refers to the inseparable union of method and wisdom on the path to enlightenment. Thus om mani padme hum means that by practicing compassion and wisdom inseparably, we can transform ourselves into enlightened beings and be of benefit to everyone. “
Cultivating the quality of compassion isn’t easy. And like with all other qualities for our growth and transformation, developing it is a life-long process and it takes practice. And to cultivate compassion is a practice of nonviolence.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Today: I will engage compassion to lead my actions, my words and my life.
McDonald, K (2010). Awakening the kind heart: How to meditate on compassion. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications.
- Part 1 of 4 Compassion and Developing Bodhichitta
- Part 2 of 4 True compassion knows no conditions, limitations, or restrictions
- Part 3 of 4 Be compassionate by being the hand that reaches out to the injured knee
- Oh Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion
64 Ways in 64 Days Nonviolence Daily Reflections Day 46 – Mar. 16, 2012
# # #