Dear Still Water Friends,
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
During his visit to Washington last month, His Holiness the Dalai Lama emphasized the importance of being kind and compassionate. For people who don’t ascribe to Buddhism, he said that was fine—but please be kind. For those who do practice, he explained that cultivating lovingkindness and compassion is central to developing bodhicitta, the core attribute of a Buddhist in the Mahayana tradition.
He described bodhicitta, which literally means awakened heart or mind, as infinite altruism: the vow to work for the wellbeing of all beings for all time through every action in body, speech and mind. I was very grateful when he offered lovingkindness practice as an intermediate step along the steep bodhicitta path.
His Holiness explained that the point of cultivating lovingkindness is not to take kindness as an object of meditation, the way we use our breath, our body, our feelings, our thoughts, and our mental formations as the focus of our attention. The point is to practice so that our minds take on the tone of kindness itself and actually become kindness. Practicing lovingkindness leaves less space for negative emotions and lessens the self-centeredness that stiffens, shrinks, and closes our hearts. He said it allows us to restore our mind to its original nature—open, pure, continuing beyond our own limited self.
The Dalai Lama has also been quoted as saying that compassion is the radicalism of our time. In the face of our current national and global situation, this Thursday we’ll practice lovingkindness radicalism as a guided meditation from 7-7:40. As explained in the Discourse on Love below, we’ll send lovingkindness to ourselves, to those we love, to those we know, and to those with whom we have difficulties and see if it makes the world a better place, even if that means simply feeling better in our own skin.
As this is the first Thursday of the month, please join us for an orientation for new people from 6:30-7:00 led by Maria Sgambati.
I hope you can join us.
August 27: Quiet Hike in the Catoctins
September 12: No Fee Introduction to Mindfulness Practice at Crossings in Silver Spring
September 19: Smiling Like A Buddha — A 10-week workshop on Mindfulness at Crossings in Silver Spring
Discourse On Love
"He or she who wants to attain peace should practice being upright, humble, and capable of using loving speech. He or she will know how to live simply and happily, with senses calmed, without being covetous and carried away by the emotions of the majority. Let him or her not do anything that will be disapproved of by the wise ones.
"(And this is what he or she contemplates): May everyone be happy and safe, and may their hearts be filled with joy.
"May all living beings live in Security and in Peace beings who are frail or strong, tall or short, big or small, visible or not visible, near or far away, already born or yet to be born. May all of them dwell in perfect tranquility.
"Let no one do harm to anyone. Let no one put the life of anyone in danger. Let no one, out of anger or ill will, wish anyone any harm.
"Just as a mother loves and protects her only child at the risk of her own life, we should cultivate Boundless Love to offer to all living beings in the entire cosmos. We should let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below and across. Our love will know no obstacles, our heart will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity. Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake, we should maintain this mindfulness of love in our own heart. This is the noblest way of living.
"Free from wrong views, greed and sensual desires, living in beauty and realizing Perfect Understanding, those who practice Boundless Love will certainly transcend Birth and Death."
—- Metta Sutta (Suttanipata 1) from the Plum Village Chanting Book