Genuine Loving-Kindness

Before we can cultivate genuine loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves and others, we need to be aware of what qualities are actually present in the mind. How can we cultivate loving-kindness and compassion if hatred is present in the mind? If we are being realistic, we know that we can’t. We may repeat kind phrases to ourselves, but without wise awareness we will only ever have the idea of loving-kindness and not the quality of loving-kindness. Genuine loving-kindness arises naturally and spontaneously from the mind without hatred. We can’t do loving-kindness. Loving-kindness will do itself when we get out of the way.

A friend asked me, how can I give myself compassion? I told him, for starters, don’t try to give yourself compassion. Just be aware of whatever thoughts and feelings are arising in the mind without wanting things to be different. Even with the unpleasant thoughts or feelings, awareness of hatred is not hatred. The mind that is aware of hatred is different from the mind that is caught in hatred. The mind that is aware of hatred is a mind of non-hatred. When we are mindful, the mind is no longer identifying or entangled with hateful thoughts and feelings or acting under their influence.

Cultivating the meditating mind in this way, we may see how our suffering is created and gain the necessary wisdom to do what is appropriate in response to our suffering. When we say awareness, itself, is kind or loving, this is what we mean. This is the way of awareness. What commonly happens when we try to give ourselves loving-kindness and compassion is that we actually fail to do it and then we become more critical of ourselves as a result. We say things like, “I can’t even give myself compassion, I’m even worse than I thought!” How can we give ourselves compassion when we don’t trust our ability to do it? Really the most compassionate thing we can do when afflictive emotions are present in the mind is remember to be aware and continue to cultivate this awareness. All genuine feelings of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and peace flow freely from this wise effort. What attitude is present in the mind at this moment? Do you know that you are seeing right now? Are you aware of sensations in the body? This awareness itself is the source of loving-kindness and compassion.

By LC Tran with Matt Bradley

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