Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Tonglen: Death by Compassion
I have known about the Buddhist practice of tonglen for some time, but only today do I see its great value as a vehicle of enlightenment. It is a ruthless spiritual practice, for it exposes our vulnerabilities instantly. How? The essence of the practice is breathing in the pain and suffering of others, and breathing out good wishes and aspirations to them.
This will make the average energy practitioner recoil in horror. It is like asking the butler at the palace if you could drag a fresh carcass along his impeccably clean hallway. Why would someone do that?
That is the sneakiness of it. Where other practices are kinder, tonglen is direct. It shows you where self still clings, and in essence the practice pummels you in your most tender psychic parts until you have no choice but to let go and discover enlightenment. It pummels you into the only view which will transcend the spiritual pain, and incidentally also transcending all the pain from manifesting in engaging in such a spiritual practice. (Ohhh, yes, it happens. There are numerous stories of masters enduring the pain of such practices.) How? Do the practice, and study it with awareness. It will become clear.
Oh, and if you think compassion is a Buddhist thing, check out what Jesus did. (Hint: See above.)