The following excerpt is adapted from

Buddhism through American Women’s Eyes

Buddhism through American Women’s Eyes

edited by Karma Lekshe Tsomo

The Power of Loving-Kindness by Michele Levey

Creating a field of loving kindness is a very powerful meditation for daily life. Loving kindness and a good heart create the most powerful protection. The red cord that lamas give as a blessing during ceremonies actually stands for loving kindness. Buddha Shakyamuni was able to overcome all hindrances and temptations through the power of his loving kindness.

I learned a very beneficial technique for generating loving kindness and transforming negativity from a Bengali teacher of the Burmese Theravada tradition, Dipa Ma. She is considered a saint, highly attained, and pure of mind. When someone asked her, “What are the qualities of your mind?” she answered, “My mind has three qualities: concentration, equanimity, and loving kindness. That’s it.”

In this meditation, we focus awareness on the flow of the breath rising and falling in the chest. Notice any feelings of warmth, tingling, vibration, or movement at the heart and allow that region to become soft, open, and radiant. All of us can remember being in the presence of someone with strong loving kindness. Bask in that feeling of warmth, affection, and caring.

To do this meditation authentically, first we need to send a lot of love to ourselves. This is very difficult for some people, but to perfect this practice, we need to care about ourselves, too. We bring to mind our own image, like looking in a mirror, and repeat the following phrases softly:

May I be free from enmity: May I be free from aversion, ill will, hatred, and anger, hostility, and irritation toward myself and others.
May I be free from danger: May I be free from all harms, diseases, accidents, and other dangers.
May I be free from disease: May I be healthy on all levels.
May I be happy: May my heart be open, truly happy, and all wishes fulfilled.
May I be free from suffering: May I be free from all physical, mental, and emotional sufferings.

As we breathe in, we breathe in all feelings of loving kindness, happiness, and caring, filling our whole being.

Next, calling to mind an image of a teacher or friend who has been very kind, visualize someone who naturally arouses these feelings. Focus on that person as representing all our kind relatives, friends, benefactors, and helpers. Behold that person’s face as clearly and vividly as possible, generate loving kindness, and again repeat:

May you be free from enmity.
May you be free from danger.
May you be free from disease.
May you be happy.
May you be free from suffering.

Now allow that image to dissolve back into empty space and out of that emptiness, generate an awareness of all the suffering beings in the world, a general, pervasive sense of all the many beings around the globe who are suffering mentally, physically, and emotionally. Allow the spontaneous flow of images to arise in your mind, direct the focus of your concentration on loving kindness to all types of suffering beings, and repeat:

May we be free from enmity. May we be free from disease. May we be free from danger. May we be happy. May we be free from suffering.

Imagine what it would be like to go beyond the words of this meditation to the feelings pointed to by the words. Imagine what it would be like to build the strength of those feelings so that they become a radiant, powerful way of being with which to move through our daily life and work. Our life can become a source of blessing to the world or it can add to the already mounting confusion and anxiety. The choice is up to us. Through “everyday Dharma” practice, we begin building the foundation of right relations. This allows our minds to be calm and free from turbulence. A calm mind, in turn, is the necessary foundation for developing concentration and clarity, which allow the emergence of wisdom and insight. Through deepening insight, our compassion also deepens and manifests as even better relations in our day-to-day life. In this way, our practice follows the cycle of the three higher trainings of ethics, concentration, and wisdom. We go full-circle in an ever-increasing upward spiral of integrating and celebrating the inextricable interweaving of our spiritual work and our daily lives.

karmaKarma Lekshe Tsomo is a professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego, where she teaches Buddhism, World Religions, and Comparative Religious Ethics. She studied Buddhism in Dharamsala, India, for fifteen years and received a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii. She is a founder and past president of Sakyadhita: International Association of Buddhist Women, and director of Jamyang Foundation, an innovative education project for women in developing countries.

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