For the past few weeks this blog has been focused on teachings about the four immeasurables. You can catch up on other teachings on lovingkindness and compassion from previous weeks here. Next week, we will continue to explore what teachers from various traditions say about sympathetic joy. We invite you to read along with us during the next several weeks, and please comment below and let us know how these practices resonate with you.
“In Buddhist iconography, compassion is embodied in the bodhisattva Kuan Yin, who is said to manifest wherever beings need help. Engendering such compassion is not only good for others, it is also good for us. By putting others first, we loosen the bonds of our self-fixation, and in doing so, inch closer to our own liberation.” — Christina Feldman (from She Who Hears the Cries of the World)
Christina Feldman is a co-founder of Bodhi-College, which is dedicated to the study and practice of the early teachings of the Buddha. She goes on to say about self-compassion, “The Buddha once said that you could search the whole world and not find anyone more deserving of your love and compassion than yourself. ”
Learn about how Compassion both softens and strengthens our hearts at the same time, in this video from Anne Klein, professor of Buddhism at Rice University and co-founder of Dawn Mountain.
Author and scholar John Blofeld once described his lesson from a Buddhist nun as she explained how to visualize Kuan Yin. She said, “Then the moon gets smaller, but brighter and brighter till you see it as a pearl or a seed so bright you can only just bear to look at it. The pearl starts to grow and, before you know what’s happened, it is Kuan Yin Herself standing up against the sky, all dressed in gleaming white and with Her feet resting on a lotus that floats on the waves. You see Her, once you know how to do it, as clearly as I see you sitting there with the window behind you.”
Tara Brach, the founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington DC, is beloved for her teachings on self-compassion. She describes on her website a difficult time when she was praying to Kuan Yin that resulted in feeling like this, “Our hearts become an edgeless sea of loving awareness with room not only for our own hurts and fears, but also for the pain of others. Like the Mother of the World, we become the compassionate presence that can hold, with tenderness, the rising and passing waves of suffering.”