Tonglen

I

n the practice of Tonglen, one visualizes taking onto oneself the suffering of others on the in-breath, and on the out-breath praying for and offering love, light and peace. There are different ways to practice Tonglen, here at Satyaheart we offer the meditation through the Spiritual Heart as experienced in the Hridaya meditations.

There is an initial stage of this meditation where we perform the meditation on ourselves to promote self love and compassion; we can then offer this compassion as we use Tonglen for close friends and family. Eventually with the fruits of the meditation one will comfortably be able to perform the meditation to any one or group of people.

In doing this meditation one changes the attitude of seeing oneself as more important than other beings; one will come to consider others as more important than oneself. This is the ultimate aim of spiritual accomplishment to diminish the ego. This style of meditation can sometimes arouse concerns that by doing the practice they will have to lose happiness and experience suffering. However whatever happens to oneself is solely a result of one’s karma. So by offering this meditation we will only bring good to ourselves and others.

The practice of Tonglen involves all of the Six Perfections; giving, ethics, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom. These are the practices of a Bodhisattva. The gifts of the practice are to reduce selfish attachment,, increase a sense of renunciation,, create positive karma by giving and helping and to develop and expand loving-kindness and Bodhicitta.

The ultimate Bodhicitta is experienced when all one’s thoughts are calmed; one’s clinging to dualism assuaged; one just rests in the state of peace, of meditation. One dissolves into emptiness and just rests in the true nature of the being.

H.H. The Dalai Lama, who is said to practice Tonglen every day, has said of the technique:

‘Whether this meditation really helps others or not, it gives me peace of mind. Then I can be more effective, and the benefit is immense.’