not all who wander are lost.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Karuna Meditation

This is the Karuna Meditation...Karuna being the 3rd of the 4 Divine Abodes of Buddhism (and the Four Immeasurables from Patanjali's sutras). Karuna means compassion. The difference between Karuna and Metta is that Karuna is the desire to remove harm and suffering from others; while Metta is the desire to bring about the well-being and happiness of others.

In Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, one of the foremost authoritative texts on the Bodhisattva path is the Bodhicaryavatara by Shantideva. In the eighth section entitled Meditative Concentration, Shantideva describes meditation on Karunā as thus:

Strive at first to meditate upon the sameness of yourself and others. In joy and sorrow all are equal; Thus be guardian of all, as of yourself. The hand and other limbs are many and distinct, But all are one--the body to kept and guarded. Likewise, different beings, in their joys and sorrows, are, like me, all one in wanting happiness. This pain of mine does not afflict or cause discomfort to another's body, and yet this pain is hard for me to bear because I cling and take it for my own. And other beings' pain I do not feel, and yet, because I take them for myself, their suffering is mine and therefore hard to bear. And therefore I'll dispel the pain of others, for it is simply pain, just like my own. And others I will aid and benefit, for they are living beings, like my body. Since I and other beings both, in wanting happiness, are equal and alike, what difference is there to distinguish us, that I should strive to have my bliss alone?"


Begin by focusing on the heart center - the middle of the chest, just beneath the sternum. Feel the breath moving there, rising and falling. Soften the heart, let yourself be open and receptive, letting down any defenses. Very slowly move through these phrases in your mind, contemplating their meaning and letting their meaning penetrate beyond the idea to the actual feeling itself.

  • May I be kind.
  • May I be aware of my own suffering.
  • May I be open to my own suffering.
  • May I respond to my suffering with love and compassion.
  1. First repeat this several times for YOURSELF.
  2. Now focus it and send it to someone dear to you (May you be...)

  • May I be kind to you.
  • May I be aware of your suffering.
  • May I be open to your suffering.
  • May I respond to your suffering with love and compassion.

  • May you be kind.
  • May you be aware of your own suffering.
  • May you be open to your own suffering.
  • May you respond to your suffering with love and compassion.
      1. Send this to someone neutral. A neighbor, acquaintance, coworker, etc. (May you be...)
      2. Focus on someone negative or difficult. Someone that maybe you just don't like. Now send it to them (May you be...)
      3. Finally, send it to All Beings Everywhere (May all beings everywhere be...)
      Radiate Karuna outward to all beings nearby, and gradually out to the whole planet, and finally the entire universe. At the end, come back to an awareness of breath and the heart center again, returning to the reality of your own body and this present moment.

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