Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Add An Infusion of Love, Cultivating Genuine Compassion, Part 2

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This is one truth I have come to know with certainty: When you love completely from the depth of your heart, your wish for another person’s happiness becomes greater than your own perceived needs, wants, and desires. Now, imagine extending that pure love to all beings, and you will have a taste of immeasurable love.

Powered by a vast perspective, profound love lies beyond attachment. Yet, to arrive there you may travel through oceans of fear and grasping. All of our mental and emotional constructions around love and our associated tight-knit boundaries keep us locked in a small version of ordinary love inevitably intertwined with suffering. This suffering may not be immediately apparent, especially if you are in the throes of passion, but, if it’s not already peeking through, it will surely arrive one day.

This is the second article in a once a month series on the Four Boundless Attitudes, which together form genuine compassion: Love, Compassion, Joy and Impartiality. You can read the first article here: Cultivating Genuine Compassion: Begin with Impartiality.

Rooted in impartiality, immeasurable love transcends the concept of “friend” and “enemy,” an impermanent and falsely derived construct that often fuels our interactions in life. Through understanding and practicing impartiality, we discover all beings are equally deserving of our love, compassion, and joy, making these qualities boundless indeed.

What Is Love?

In my spiritual tradition, the definition of love is the wish for others to have happiness, and the causes of happiness. Thus real love is not a transitory romantic impulse or dependent upon familial connections. Rather, it is a tender-heartedness that permeates your whole way of being and naturally extends to all.  Just like the sun shines everywhere, no one is excluded from your warmth.

Immeasurable love takes into account this important equalizing principle: all beings want happiness and not a single one wishes to suffer. In fact, for the most part, all our actions are motivated by this burning desire to be happy. However, without having thought deeply about what truly brings happiness, most of us engage in thoughts, words, and actions that bring suffering instead.

Addictions of all types are one activity that fall within this category. But, you can witness the same principle occurring in countless small ways throughout your days.  Just think of all the unhelpful thought patterns that dictate your life, and make you flinch when the response you receive is different than you expect.

How to Grow Immeasurable Love

To practice immeasurable love, meditate time and again on the wish for all beings to have every possible happiness and cause of happiness following this sequence.

  • Begin by sending love to yourself.
  • Bring to mind someone who has benefited you tremendously and wish for their happiness.
  • Visualize a close friend or relative and wish for their happiness.
  • Consider someone you feel neutral towards – like a delivery person or a stranger on a train – and wish for their happiness.
  • As your capacity to express love expands, imagine someone who annoys you or a person you consider an outright enemy. Practice extending love to them as well.
  • At the, make the wish that all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.

In each case, make your wish for the person’s happiness as strong as your desire for your own happiness.

At first, it may not be easy to extend love to an enemy, but if you practice sending love in this progressive manner you will gradually be able to extend your circle of endearment until finally it becomes limitless and includes all beings.

This is a formal practice of meditation that is done in sessions.  If you are not sure how to meditate, you can learn the basics with this short, 10-step video instruction:  dare to meditate.  Start with 5 to 15 minutes a day.  You can begin by focusing on the breath for a short while, and then move on to sending loving kindness.  As you bring a person to mind, and send out the feeling of love, you can silently repeat the phrases:

  • May you be well.
  • May you be happy.
  • May you be safe.

Once you are accustomed to the practice, add more time if you wish.

Then, in daily life, try as much as possible to express love through all your thoughts, words, and actions. This can be as simple as being fully present, and looking at another with a gentle and kind gaze.

You Deserve Love Too

Please do not exclude yourself from your own circle of love!  Before you can truly love others, you must be able to love and appreciate yourself. However, the thought of sending love to one’s self is huge stumbling block for many of us.  You can explore obstacles to self-love, and learn how to send loving kindness to yourself in these articles:

The key to immeasurable love is to constantly wish for others’ happiness from the depths of your heart, refrain from harm, and engage in beneficial actions. Because loving kindness is the antidote to anger and to fear, as your tender heart blossoms, you’ll discover more happiness, joy, and freedom in your life too.

In this monthly series, I write about one of Four Boundless Attitudes on the first Sunday of every month.  Then, if you wish, you’ll have a whole month to practice it before we move to the next one.  Next up at the beginning of July is boundless compassion.  If you haven’t read the first article in the series, just click here:

Did you practice impartiality last month?  If so, tell us about it.  Or, share your thoughts about boundless love.

P. S. Great News:  My friend Courtney Carver and the community at Be More With Less successfully raised $4,400 for Charity Water.  To celebrate, on Monday (June 10th) only, Courtney is giving copies of her books on simplicity away for free along with more giveaways from other bloggers.  Join us for the hoopla!

I’m so glad you’re here!  Please take a moment to share this post so others can be encouraged and inspired.  And, if you liked this article, please consider subscribing for free updates by email. Thanks! With love, Sandra

 

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8 Comments

  1. This is such a simple and wonderful definition of love, Sandra–wishing for another’s happiness. As I was reading, I had a thought about what prevents me from always feeling love and compassion as much as I would like–and that is the bane of judgment. When I’m judging someone, I’m not wishing for their happiness. It’s probably no surprise that I judge myself often as well. Thanks for a simple path out.

    • Dear Charlotte,

      I appreciate your willingness to look within and explore deeply! Judgment is a big obstacle for most of us. Those self-judgments can be especially thick. Through awareness, we can whittle away those judgments and let our warm heart show through. Thank you for bringing this perspective to the discussion.

  2. I take so much comfort in this truth of boundless love. Right now I am struggling with my feelings of attachment to one particular person, wishing against reality that the form of our relationship would be different than what it currently is. I want ‘more’ from her than she can offer, and yet she offers me unconditional, boundless love and friendship. What could be more than that? When I can dwell in that reality, I am fine and the attachment and suffering loosens up. This post reminded me of that truth, Sandra, and I am grateful for your writing here. Thank you.

    • We all need these reminders, don’t we, Maia! I deeply appreciate your challenge. I’m working with my own attachment at the moment, and I understand how challenging that can be. But when we rest our mind in the truth of the teachings, as you point out here, the grasping starts to fall away leaving so much more space for simplicity, happiness, and freedom. I’m so glad you can taste that from time to time and I know you are headed steadily in the right direction. Thanks for your appreciation and gratitude. It means a lot to me.

  3. jean sampson

    Hi Sandra, I try to practice something similar—–I imagine sending out a ray of light from my heart into the other person’s heart and feeling love go back and forth through it. It is very freeing to wish for someone else’s well-being and happiness—-it takes the attention off oneself and puts it on the other person and that is a good thing. I find that my heart opens up a lot when I am in an RC counseling session with another person who allows himself or herself to be vulnerable with me. I feel so privileged to have been given that gift and I cannot help but to feel amazing love for that person! One of these days I am really going to get that I don’t have to worry about being happy—–I only need to send that wish for happiness to someone else and I WILL be happy!
    PS____I think the problem I was having with the computer is fixed—–keep your fingers crossed! 🙂

    • Hi Jean,

      What a beautiful visualization. Well, you clearly have this one down in such a wondrous way. I love your conclusion that there’s no need to worry about being happy, when you send that wish for happiness to someone else it’s wonderfu that it comes back to you. I”m so happy you have Re-evaluation Counseling as a resource in your life. What a great way to give and receive help and love.

  4. You bring up such a good point about our limited emotional and mental constructions around love. This is one of the greatest challenges of being human- the concept of unconditional love towards all beings- the feeling of oneness- that I should love the stranger on the street as much as my family. I’m not there yet but it’s a good practice to play with:)

    Thank you for sharing Courtney’s good news! That’s wonderful.

  5. It is a big challenge, isn’t it, Carrie? First, we need to even understand the logic of why we would love a stranger as much as a family member. These are the barriers we need to break through the achieve any significant spiritual growth. I’m not there either, but as you say, it’s a practice and if we keep with it, we can all get there!

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