(Dear Dharma friends, I found this wonderful teaching on developing loving kindness. It has many benefits and is such an easy way to practice with the mind if one has no time to do much practice. Please do read and make a commitment to yourself to practice it. If more people do this simple practice, I believe there will be much more merit, kindness and happiness in this world.)
Lord Jigten Sumgon gave several volumes of teachings on Bodhicitta. They were compiled by Chenga Drikung Lingpa. Of these there are mainly works called “The Great Instruction.”
Generally we know loving kindness as the wish for all sentient beings to be happy, and compassion as the wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering as in the Four Immeasurables. Lord Jigten Sumgon’s teachings are summarized in two parts: how to recognize bodhicitta, and how to practice bodhicitta.
It is important to know how to recognize bodhicitta. In some traditions it starts with loving oneself, but in the Mahayana tradition, Bodhicitta is primarily directed towards loving others. We recognize it as a clear loving feeling. All living beings have this feeling – that of a mother for her child, or a child for their mother.
In Buddhahood, however, there is an absence of object. It is simply a joy to benefit and help others. In order to arouse bodhicitta, we should see all beings as if they were small children, perhaps as babies, with a feeling of liking or loving, the desire to carry them in our arms and such expressions of affection.
Lord Jigten Sumgon says that it is much more difficult to develop loving kindness, than it is to develop compassion. If loving kindness arises with respect to a loved one, it is considered impure loving kindness. If it arises for all beings as it would for the most lovable small child, strangers, insects, enemies, then it is pure.
How to practice loving-kindness has three parts: practice, accomplishment and application.
The body posture should be in the seven-point position of meditation, with a slight smile on the lips, legs crossed or in the lotus position, hands in “Touching the Earth” mudra as Buddha Shakyamuni, eyes half closed, back straight.
One usually begins by contemplating the loving kindness of one’s mother. Lord Jigten Sumgon predicted that in the degenerate times this might be difficult. In that future time, he stated, that if one cannot arouse a loving feeling by thinking of one’s mother, then use the thought of any other person who has benefitted you greatly, such as a good friend or your spiritual teacher.
Because loving kindness is more difficult to fully realize than compassion, one should spend one to two weeks concentrating on recognizing the feeling of loving-kindness. For a beginner on the gradual path, raising a strong feeling of loving kindness takes an average of fifteen days. Once loving kindness is perfectly developed towards our mother, who has been most kind to us since our birth, taking care of us unselfishly, feeding us, we then extend loving kindness to all those in our town or village.
When this is accomplished we spread Bodhicitta to all people south of Mt. Meru or the southern continent; then east, west and finally north of Mt.Meru, or the whole world. This one world is considered one to be one unit. we then extend bodhicitta to 1,000 worlds. This now also becomes one unit as we extend loving kindness to 1,0003 worlds. This, too, is one unit, or one world system. We now spread loving kindness to 3,000 world systems [note: 1,000 3 multiplies out to 1,000,000,000 and not 3,000]. This is the sphere of influence of Buddha Shakyamuni, the three great One Thousand World Systems.
There are still many other world systems. We extend loving-kindness to the innumerable infinite world systems of the East, South, West, North, Below us and Above us. Seeing all beings of the Ten Directions, without exception, as our mothers. We extend the heartfelt wish for all beings, boundless as the sky, with no boundary or limit, to experience the Four Immeasureables.Beginning with Bodhicitta extended towards our mothers, we gradually expand this feeling to include all sentient beings. If we cannot at first extend loving-kindness to all beings, stop and begin again with the pure feeling of Bodhicitta and then, step-by-step, extend until we generate Bodhicitta fully in all 10 directions, and to all sentient beings.
Lord Jigten Sumgon was meditating in a cave for seven years, when he contracted leprosy. He became very upset, because at that time in Tibet, leprosy was a terrible and incurable disease. He was preparing to leave his body, so he prayed and venerated his yidam, Chenrezig. While doing so, he compared his condition to that of other beings. In doing so, he developed great compassion for the suffering of others. By meditating on the condition of others, that night, he went into the samadhi of loving-kindness.
He felt his sickness leaving him in the form of serpents. By the morning he had attained Enlightenment and the Mahamudra state of Vajradhara. Later he composed a song about his experience, but said that it took a period of three days, because he thought people would be unable to believe that anyone could attain Enlightenment in one night.
He went on to cure innumerable people of leprosy, and became so popular that he was called “the one who dreams away leprosy.” This took place in an early part of his life. He called this period, “Loving-kindness with unfavorable conditions.” The remainder of his life was called, “Pure Loving Kindness.”
How to Practice Accomplishment:
Having recognized Bodhicitta and practiced accordingly, go to a lonely place and sit in deep samadhi. By this meditation practice, you will receive great powers. To practice application, you then use this power to benefit all beings, overcoming disease, famine, drought, war, etc.
If you see an area of the world with such unfavorable conditions, you sit in samadhi and develop love, not only for the human beings of that place, but for all living beings in that area. In this way, unfavorable conditions are overcome. By wishing that “in this area may disease, war, etc., be subdued,” the conditions are pacified.
At the time Lord Buddha was leaving the world, through his miraculous powers, all the weapons in Shawasti were transformed into flowers. By witnessing this, even a non-Buddhist attained Enlightenment. Also, once in the country of Shawasti a great sickness was spreading, and Ananda’s loving-kindness subdued the disease. In Lord Jigten Sumgon’s instructions it states that perhaps during the time of Guru Padma Sambhava, the Mongols attacking Samaye Monastery were pacified by loving kindness.
If you experience unfavorable circumstances caused by spirits, demons or curses, sit in meditation on loving kindness to ward off obstuctors. In this way, you can overcome your difficulties. There are many stories of the efficacy of loving-kindness meditation. If you want to accomplish something for yourself and others in a certain direction, you can focus loving-kindness in that direction. You develop loving-kindness for all beings in that direction, for humans and non-humans alike. You can thus fulfill your purpose. One can overcome spirits, demons and non-humans with loving-kindness.
Loving-kindness is also very important on such special occasions as when giving empowerments, teachings and consecrating statues. On these occasions you being by meditating on loving-kindness and then extending it towards all beings – human and non-human equally – of that particular area and then extend it to the whole world, and then to all worlds. Again to begin practicing, start with a small area and gradually spread loving-kindness, like unto the ripples caused by dropping a stone in a pool of water. In this way, your meditative concentration is not lost!
When consecrating a new statue of Buddha, sit in meditation on loving-kindness, develop Samadhi of Loving-kindness, then sprinkle the statue with flowers. This is the best consecration. Similarly, in doing pujas, if you do pujas in a state of loving-kindness, then the auspicious conditions and wishes are fulfilled. Loving-kindness is especially important for spiritual teachers. When leading rituals and giving empowerments, bodhicitta is indispensable. One cannot function without it. Even if you want to heal someone from sickness, or make a torma offering, you cannot do it without loving-kindness. What small amounts of realizations you do have might be lost in the process without loving-kindness. You can see the blessing power of loving-kindness in daily life. A physician who knows the four tantras, but has not developed loving-kindness cannot effectively heal, while someone who has less knowledge and cultivates loving-kindness does heal.
If a yogi wants to heal someone with a demon or a spirit possession, and if the yogi does not have the proper knowledge of loving-kindness, he may become sick or possessed himself. It is the same with Tantric knowledge. If a practitioner tries to heal without loving-kindness, someone else might become sick or possessed. It is also the case with yogis who practice in isolation in the mountains. Whether they have good karma or not, experience demons or not, have their wishes fulfilled or not, all of this depends on their knowledge of loving-kindness.
At the time of the application of the power of loving-kindness (when giving empowerments, healing, consecrating statues, etc.) you should be very careful. While you are in samadhi, if your state is disturbed by a negative thought, or if a person disturbs you, your meditation becomes useless. While sitting in meditation on loving-kindness, with a view towards the application or that power, concentrate on that application specifically.
If your attention shifts, for example, from war to famine then the famine might be relieved, but your main aim was not accomplished. Or if, for example, a new statue is in front of you and your eyes shift to a statue in the distance, then that far statue is consecrated, and not the one you intended to consecrate. At the time of the application, you must take great care not to break your meditation. If there is a sudden break your meditation power is scattered and the energy disperses. Rather than letting this happen, maintain concentration intensely to achieve your goal. At the time of application your body, speech and mind should be controlled and disciplined.
You should be in a state of mindfulness and awareness, not distracted for even a moment. Allow only positive thoughts to arise. In the case of a statue, never lose attention to the object, even as scattering flowers over it. In certain texts relating to consecration, it is said that a long ceremony or puja is only the outer ceremony of consecration.
When a person in a state of Mahamudra watches or gazes at the statue, only then is it really consecrated. It is the same with the state of loving kindness. In developing this state there are infinite benefits for oneself and for others. One achieves one’s aims and goals as well.
The benefits of practicing loving kindness are often mentioned in the sutras. They are summarized by Nagarjuna in his “Letter to a King.” One is respected by humans and non-humans alike. One is protected by these beings, and they will never harm you. Everyone is happy with you. Your mind is filled with joy. You will never be harmed by weapons or powers. Your fame will spread in all directions. After your death you will be found in the highest realm of Brahma. By practicing loving-kindness you accumulate much merit and wisdom leading towards Buddhahood. If you practice generosity three times a day for many days, you create much merit. But if you meditate for even a short moment on loving-kindness the merit is sixteen times greater. By practicing loving-kindness, one is not attacked by spirits or demons, nor does one experience such things as fighting or quarreling.
Lord Jigten Sumgon was once in an area of Tibet when a crop failed because it was afflicted by frost. he saw this and sat in loving-kindness. Since that time, in an area that can be covered by one person in a day, there has never again been a frost.
Practicing loving-kindness is important for our private lives as well. If we can sit in loving-kindness samadhi, we can spread peace and harmony to our whole families. It is a direct antidote to fear and hatred. Everything is interconnected. In society at large, loving kindness creates peace and harmony, which overcomes war, etc.
Why are there so many unfavorable conditions? Our minds are functioning in the state opposite to loving-kindness with thoughts of fear, hatred and aggressiveness. Subdue the mind! If our minds are pacified, then unfavorable conditions in the world can be pacified. If you consider Dharma practice, the main task is to subdue the mind, in order to be free from Samsara.
The main cause of enlightenment is bodhicitta. The seed of enlightenment is bodhicitta. Lord Jigten Sumgon states that enlightenment itself is the manifestation of bodhicitta, or embodiment of bodhicitta just as the manifestation of hatred is hell. Enlightenment is also dependent on loving kindness and compassion.
In the words of Lord Phagmo Drupa, “Bodhicitta is like a plant, the earth and moisture that nourish it are loving-kindness and compassion. Bodhicitta is the result.” The essence of all of Lord Buddha’s teachings are love, compassion and bodhicitta. If we practice these, there is no doubt that we will achieve Buddhahood.
Chenga Drikung Lingpa, main disciple and attendant of Lord Jigten Sumgon, compiled many of his teachings, referred to as Gong Chik meaning One Thought. Shortly before leaving the world, he declared that the substance of all the teachings are relative and absolute levels of bodhicitta.