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Home > eBooks > Unpublished Manuscripts > The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity > Exercise 15: Combining Compassion with Deconstruction

The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity

Alexander Berzin
July 1999
Revised February 2003

Part III: Dispelling Confusion about Appearances

Exercise 15: Combining Compassion with Deconstruction

I. While focusing on someone close to you who recently upset you with his or her words

  • Mentally picture the person acting upsettingly
    • Imagine his or her changing physical appearance, from infancy to old age, being sure to include past and future lives at least in the form of a feeling for their existence
    • Imagine a collage of the person acting in a variety of other ways
    • Return to the image of him or her acting upsettingly
    • Think how sad it is that the person does not understand impermanence and consequently suffers greatly by imagining that difficult situations will last forever
    • Focusing on your mental picture or on a photograph of the person, generate compassion by sincerely wishing for him or her to be free from suffering and from this cause of suffering
  • Put down the photo, if using one, and return to the mental image of the person acting upsettingly
    • Imagine the person as a collection of atoms
    • Imagine a collage of causes for his or her behavior from this lifetime, or generate a feeling for their existence
    • Imagine a collage of causes from the influence of past generations, or generate a feeling for their existence
    • Imagine a collage of causes from the influence of past lives, or generate a feeling for their existence
    • Return to the image of him or her acting upsettingly
    • Imagine a collage of consequences of the person's behavior on the rest of his or her present life, or generate a feeling for their existence
    • Imagine a collage of repercussions for future generations, or generate a feeling for their existence
    • Imagine a collage of consequences on his or her future lives and on the future lives of everyone involved, or generate a feeling for their existence
    • Return to the image of him or her acting upsettingly
    • Think how sad it is that the person is unaware of the dependently arising nature of his or her behavior and has no idea of the future consequences it will have
    • Focus on your mental picture or on a photograph of the person and generate compassion by sincerely wishing for him or her to be free from suffering and from this cause of suffering
  • Put down the photo, if using one, and return to the mental image of the person acting upsettingly
    • Recall the bare experience of the arising and hearing of the sound of the person's upsetting words
    • Imagine that experience like an ocean wave of your clear light activity
    • As the wave of experience swelled, it filled first with the dualistic feeling of a seemingly concrete "me" as the victim and a seemingly concrete "you" as the oppressor, and then with a feeling of emotional upset
    • Imagine the wave subsiding, with first the disturbing emotion, then the feeling of dualism, and finally the hearing of the sound settling back into the ocean of mind
    • Return to the image of the person acting and speaking upsettingly
    • Think how sad it is that the person does not realize that dualistic appearances are merely projections of his or her clear light mind onto waves of experience – believing in these appearances, he or she suffers greatly
    • Focus on your mental picture or on a photograph of the person and generate compassion by sincerely wishing for him or her to be free from suffering and from this cause of suffering

II. While focusing on someone in person

1. Repeat the procedure while sitting in a circle with a group and focusing on each person in turn for each of the three deconstructions

  • Look at each person only briefly to gain a point of reference, look away while imagining the collage of his or her life's changes and so forth, and then look back while directing compassion
  • If you have never encountered the person acting upsettingly, work with an imagined scene of him or her behaving that way

III. While focusing on yourself

1. Using a mirror, repeat the procedure followed when focusing on others in a circle, but recalling an incident in which you acted destructively

2. Repeat the procedure without a mirror

3. Repeat the procedure while having before you a series of photos of yourself spanning your life

  • When directing compassion, wish that you could have had these insights then

Corresponding Chapter 13 in Developing Balanced Sensitivity