Tonglen: Compassion and the Breath

Compassion and the breath (5-19-2011) by Domo Geshe Rinpoche.

Copyright White Conch Dharma Center – used with permission.

Audio of commentary on the Tonglen meditation practice and how to practice it :

Tonglen is a very powerful compassion practice and the second major technique (exchange of self and other) for arising healing love. It is a very healing practice for oneself and others.

Breath IN: On the in breath one takes in the suffering of others.

Breath OUT: on the out breath send them immeasurable happiness.

It is sometime easier to start small and increase in focus.

I use this practice when I am sick or in pain and it works very well…. being home sick is actually a benefit.

Dalai Lama Quote of the Week

Patiently accepting small hardships gives one the opportunity to apply other practices. One could make aspirational prayers and the dedication, “By my experience of this suffering, may I be able to purify my negativities committed in the past.” One can also use the opportunity for the practice of tong-len, which is the Mahayana practice of “giving and taking.”

…This advice is especially useful when dealing with illnesses. Of course it is important, first of all, to take all the preventative measures so one does not suffer from illnesses, such as adopting the right diet, or whatever it may be. Then when one becomes ill, it is important not to overlook the necessity for taking the appropriate medications and other measures necessary for healing. However, there would be an important difference in how one responded to illness if instead of moaning about the situation, instead of feeling sorry for oneself, instead of being overwhelmed by anxiety and worry, one saved oneself from these unnecessary additional mental pains and suffering by adopting the right attitude. Although it may not succeed in alleviating the real physical pain and suffering, one can think, “May I, by experiencing this pain and suffering, be able to help other people and save others who may have to go through the same experience.” One can in this way use that opportunity for a spiritual practice, in other words, practicing tong-len meditation, or “giving and taking.” This type of practice, although it might not necessarily lead to a real cure in physical terms, can definitely protect one from unnecessary additional mental suffering and pain. And on top of that, it is also possible that instead of being saddened by the experience one can see it as a kind of privilege. One can see it as an opportunity and in fact be joyful because of this particular experience which has made one’s life richer.

–from Healing Anger: The Power of Patience from a Buddhist Perspective by the Dalai Lama, translated by Geshe Thupten Jinpa, published by Snow Lion Publications