Thank you to HippDippy66 for this resource.
Love and Compassion
from An Open-Hearted Life: Transformative Methods for Compassionate Living from a Clinical Psychologist and a Buddhist Nun
Reflection: Cultivating Love
To cultivate love, sit quietly with your eyes lowered or closed. Begin by breathing normally and naturally, observing your breath for a little while to calm your mind. When your mind is calm, imagine a replica of yourself sitting in front of you. Think about how you want happiness and not suffering. Reflect on what this happiness is in your own case. Contemplate its causes: making wise decisions, being generous, and so on. Then sincerely wish yourself to have this happiness and its causes. Imagine that you have them and feel safe, satisfied, and fulfilled.
Then contemplate spiritual happiness and its causes in detail. Wish yourself to have a sense of meaning and purpose in your life and to be able to fulfill these. Wish yourself to be free from disturbing emotions and to have love and compassion that extend equally to all beings. Feel fulfilled and joyful.
While you are doing this, if any thoughts of “I’m not worthy of being happy,” or, “I’m incapable of creating the causes for happiness,” arise, realize that these are illogical, self-centered thoughts. We all want and deserve happiness. We all have the ability to create the causes for it. As one of my (Chodron’s) teachers said, “If you have the potential to become a fully awakened human being—and we all do—then you also have the potential to create the causes for happiness.”
Then visualize a teacher or someone that you respect, and repeat the above steps of wishing this person happiness and its causes. Send these kind wishes out to that person and imagine that the person is filled with peace and joy as he or she receives them.
Follow that by thinking of a stranger sitting in front of you and repeat the steps.
When you have done this, think of someone you don’t get along with. Try to wish him well. Remember that the entire value or meaning of his life doesn’t lie in how he treated you for a comparatively short period of time and extend kind wishes to him. Imagine him being happy and at peace inside of himself. He would be more likeable than the disagreeable person you see him as now. Being happy, relaxed and fulfilled, he would also act differently. He would be able to express the kindness that is buried beneath the pain in his heart.
Finally, think of all living beings and contemplate the steps, imagining them all having happiness and its causes. Let your love arise and radiate to all of them. Be aware of how you feel when you are able to love everyone – to wish them to have happiness and its causes. Let your mind rest in that feeling.
In this practice and the next, if you get stuck extending positive emotions towards yourself, remember that, like all other beings, you want happiness, don’t want suffering and deserve kindness. After all, we are practicing extending love and compassion to all beings, not all minus ourselves.
An Open-Hearted Life: Transformative Methods for Compassionate Living from a Clinical Psychologist and a Buddhist Nun
by Russel Kolts & Thubten Chodron
published by Shambhala
An Open-Hearted Life is the U.S. edition of Living with an Open Heart: Cultivating Compassion in Everyday Life, published in UK by Constable & Robinson