Daily Wisdom from the Dalai Lama

“Shantideva suggests an interesting way of doing this practice in his Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. It is a visualization to help us appreciate the shortcomings of self-centerdness, and provide us with methods to confront it. On one side you visualize your own normal self, the self that is totally impervious to others’ well-being and an embodiment of self-centerdness. This is the self that only cares about its own well-being, to the extent that it is often willing to exploit others quite arrogantly to reach its own ends. Then, on the other side, you visualize a group of beings who are suffering, with no protection and no refuge. You can focus your attention on specific individuals if you wish. For example, if you wish to visualize someone you know well and care about, and who is suffering, then you can take that person as a specific object of your visualization and do the entire practice of giving and taking in relation to him or her. Thirdly, you view yourself as a neutral person or impartial observer, who tries to assess whose interest is more important here. Isolating yourself in the position of neutral observer makes it easier for you to see the imitations of self-centerdness, and realize how much fairer and more rational it is to concern yourself with the welfare of other sentient beings.

As a result of this visualization, you slowly begin to feel an affinity with others and a deep empathy with their suffering, and at this point you can begin the actual meditation of giving and taking.”

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