Some people take on a beloved’s pain by breathing in their suffering and breathing out love and well-being as Tibetan Buddhists do in the practice of tonglen. In his description of this advanced form of compassion, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987) said in his book Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness , a tonglen practice works with habitual mental patterns and “develops the psychological attitude of exchanging oneself for others.” The essential quality of a tonglen practice is indeed love, but unfortunately, an uninitiated heart can break if it takes on too much suffering without proper training and protections. This article will explore the ability to hold so much love in your heart that compassion radiates to everyone and everything around you.
Compassion in its purest form becomes a lifestyle and requires a deep understanding of humanity’s divine nature. Loving everyone as a fellow divine being and refusing to categorize anyone based upon their personal struggles is an essential quality of pure compassion. This prevents the instinct to pity others or assume people need to be fixed or healed. This practice invites us to always see the world as intrinsically whole from this holistic perspective. This sense of oneness lets us stay connected to the divine, our own divinity and recognize divinity everywhere we go. From this place we recognize the divine in everything and everyone we meet. When holding this advance level of compassion, if trouble knocks on our door or we notice someone mired in struggle, we merely see the divine in disguise. Then we look for ways to embody love without judging, questioning, or putting the situation or person in our intellectual box that we must do something about.
Surrender is an essential quality of compassion. The goal is to surrender judgment, idealistic thinking and remain connected to the oneness throughout the universe. Love in its purest form knows no boundaries and is not bound by illusion. People, who hold this level of compassion have mastered earth’s illusion and do not judge others like so many people do. The challenge is to flow within the mystery of how the divine presents itself. When a metaphorical lightning bolt strikes us, all we need to do is surrender to the situation and embrace whatever is happening or whoever is challenging us with love in our heart.
Compassion evolves from the ability to be one with the universe and perceive the pain and suffering in the world as part of us and a natural aspect of life on earth. And, as a loving being, another’s suffering gives us pain due to our connection to oneness. From this unified level of shared consciousness, we feel other’s pain and self-care is how we release our own suffering and help our neighbor.
This is accomplished in the following ways:
• Bring love to your own pain.
• Surrender to every aspect of the truth of the situation mirrored within yourself.
• Take responsibility for our suffering and let it go knowing that the divine can handle it all.
• Know there are divine mysteries, which are always in everyone’s highest good.
• Release your suffering, then help others if moved to do so as your own divine expression.
It’s challenging to surrender to this level of compassion while the world howls around us. Tonglen is a wonderful practice to learn to feel another’s pain more clearly. Compassion is a quality of our soul and an awareness of oneness. We birthed from oneness, and everyone and everything on earth is interconnected through our sense of oneness within divinity. People, who embody pure compassion care about world events, because they affect our heart. When we hold pure compassion, I love myself and want to clear and heal my heart, when others suffer. The byproduct of these series of events and processes described within this article…is pure compassion.