Ven. Thubten Tenzin from Russia is training with the Sravasti Abbey community through the winter. He recently led the following meditation as a motivation for morning practice.
On the fasting day of the second Nyungnä that we had at Sravasti Abbey, we watched a documentary called The Last Dalai Lama? where Ven. Matthieu Ricard compared the mind to the current of a river. I really liked this analogy and started playing with it by extrapolating the very same image to the different aspects of mind-training that we engage in as practitioners. I want to share one of these aspects that relates to the four immeasurables.
I want to invite you on a little quest where we will use our imagination.
Close your eyes if they are open, or leave them slightly open if your imagination works better that way.
As an act of loving kindness for yourself, place your attention on your nostrils and observe the sensations you feel at the opening of your nostrils while you are breathing. Do that for a few moments. Bring your mind to its natural state of relaxation, stillness and vigilance.
Imagine yourself as a river: not a very big river but still beautiful and moving its pure waters through a valley. It’s a beautiful, warm, sunny day, and the valley is not a barren place – it’s full of life. You can see all kinds of birds, insects, fish, wild animals, domestic animals and people living in a village nearby.
The wellbeing of all of beings very much relies on this river. You, the river, impartially care about all the inhabitants of the valley. You encourage their growth. They can drink tasty water; they can nurture their fields; they can clean their bodies and clothes, and some of these beings can even live within the river.
You are this wonderful river, full of potential to benefit all of the life around you. You are endowed with these amazing qualities of impartiality, love, compassion, empathetic joy, and enthusiasm to be there for them, to embrace their life experiences, and to fulfill their deepest wishes.
Now look closely. Who comes to your banks of the river? Is it an animal … a human? A stranger or someone you know quite well? Maybe a difficult person? Meet them.
Mind them closely. What does your surface reflect? If you look closely enough, you will see their hopes, desires, and problems. What are their deepest longings? What are their struggles? What did they bring to you? Are they happy or unhappy, joyous or insecure? Hungry, thirsty? What are they looking fo
Let your imagination play freely in this quest for a few minutes. Attend closely to those in need and explore your ability to embrace them.
All of them are worthy of your resources just because they can feel; they strive to escape discomfort and to find comfort.
They’re worthy of your care regardless of what they do to you: throwing stones (you stay unperturbed), trying to pollute you (you are nonetheless limpid), taking as much advantage of you as they can and giving back nothing – never mind all that. Loving kindness and compassion that are impartial are also inexhaustible.
So may we all be like that beautiful river tirelessly carrying these potent qualities. May we be open to embrace whoever we come in close contact with by offering our full presence. Just by giving our full attention, we are practicing the second type of generosity – the giving of security or protection.
As a river accumulates and carries the soothing quality of the moon (compassion) and sun’s ability to dispel darkness (wisdom), may we too develop these qualities in our mindstream with the wish to benefit all living beings beginning with those that surround us.
2018 December 17th