As I wrote yesterday, tonglen is the act of inhaling suffering and exhaling loving-kindness, or bodhicitta. I know it is counterintuitive and it sounds spiritually suicidal but it works. By meeting hate and suffering with love, you will find a startling peace. Even if you want to get mad or upset, your body will not.
So here is how you do it. Sit in a comfortable place and manner, exactly how you would for meditation. Imagine someone you love who might be suffering from a delusion such as pain, grief, hate, or attachment. See them, feel them.
Then visualize the stressed energy of their emotions flowing from their body as an inky black smoke. Inhale it into your body. Don’t indulge or try to taste or feel their negative energies. That’s like eating shit and savoring it too. Just take it into yourself.
Next, exhale champagne pink bubbly bodhicitta, or love. As long as they have suffering to offer you, you have love to offer them. Continue until you feel you have equalized your loved one’s suffering. You may be startled to notice that instead of feeling like the suffering you have inhaled, you instead empathize with the love and peace you have sent out.
This is a good sitting technique. It is an even better technique to do in the moment. When someone gives you anger, give them love. When someone gives you jealousy, give them love. When someone gives you ridicule, give them love. All negative emotive drives, like anger, jealousy, and ridicule, come from an insecurity and a suffering. Meeting that negativity with loving-kindness stops it in its tracks. Maybe it can even change the world, the Tibetans certainly think so.
Either way, it always feels better to feel love than to harbor resentment against those we perceive as wronging us.
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