The Berzin Archives

The Buddhist Archives of Dr. Alexander Berzin

Switch to the Text Version of this page. Jump to main navigation.

Home > eBooks > Unpublished Manuscripts > The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity > Exercise 17: Accepting Suffering and Giving Happiness

The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity

Alexander Berzin
July 1999
Revised February 2003

Part IV: Responding with Balanced Sensitivity

Exercise 17: Accepting Suffering and Giving Happiness

I. While focusing on a photo or on a mental picture of a loved one who is troubled with a problem

  • Quiet the mind with the "letting-go," "writing-on-water" and "swell-on-the-ocean" methods
    • To settle into a state of serenity, silence flightiness of mind, by imagining tension, worry, and speediness leaving with your breath or simultaneously arising and disappearing like writing on water
    • Dispel dullness, by imagining just emerging from a refreshing shower
    • To compose yourself with equanimity, calm any feelings of attraction, repulsion, or indifference, by thinking how your loved one is a human being and, like you, does not like to be clung to, rejected, or ignored
    • Release overprotectiveness, fright, or feeling too busy, with your breath or the image of writing on water
  • Recall the problem your loved one is facing and the pain and sorrow he or she is experiencing
    • Generate a caring attitude by thinking, "You are a human being and have feelings, just as I do."
    • To develop interest, think how the person and you are interrelated, like your hand and your foot, and consider that this pain needs to be removed, not because it is your loved one's pain, but simply because it hurts
    • To empathize, recall something similar that you have experienced
    • To develop compassion, reflect that if you were in the same predicament, you would want it to end – so does your loved one
    • Wish for him or her to be free of the pain and its causes
    • To gain the willingness to become involved, think that just as you would not appreciate someone's excuses, your loved one also would not welcome your hesitation
  • To dispel fear of feeling the person's sorrow, deflate dualistic projections, by alternately tickling your palm, pinching it, and holding one hand in the other, experiencing each as a wave of the mind without a dualistic impression of a seemingly concrete "me" and a seemingly concrete physical sensation
    • Reflect that just as feelings of physical pleasure or pain are not upsetting or frightening when experienced nondualistically, the same is true with feelings of mental happiness or sadness
  • Without tension or fear, imagine the suffering and its causes leaving your loved one as black light, freeing the person from his or her pain
    • Picture this light entering your heart as you breathe in
    • Accept and feel the person's anguish
    • View the experience of pain from the perspective of the ocean of your clear light mind and see it nondualistically like a wave
    • Feel the sadness that what your loved one and now you are experiencing naturally evokes, without it upsetting the calm, composed depths of the ocean
    • Let the feeling of sadness naturally subside and pass
  • Feel a warm and loving concern for the person's welfare naturally arising from your clear light heart
    • With the wish for your loved one to be happy, picture your concern as this happiness and its causes, but in the form of white light
    • Reinforced by the natural joy of the mind, feel deep happiness while imagining the light entering the person and filling him or her with joy
  • To gain understanding and possible solutions for your loved one's problems, tap the abilities of the five types of deep awareness and picture your understanding and solutions leaving you also as white light and filling the person

II. While focusing on someone in person

1. Repeat the procedure two or three times while sitting in a circle with a group and focusing on a different person each time, by working with general problems that afflict most people, such as insecurity, and by using the key phrases to settle into the preliminary state of mind

  • "no tension, worry, speediness, or dullness"
  • "relaxed and fresh"
  • "no clinging, aversion, or indifference"
  • "not overprotective, frightened, or too busy"
  • "open and concerned"
  • "interest"
  • "empathy"
  • "compassion"
  • "willingness to become involved"
  • "no fear of feeling sad"

III. While focusing on yourself

1. Repeat the procedure while looking in a mirror

2. Repeat the procedure without a mirror, by extracting your problems as black light from your entire body and bringing them to your heart, and by filling your body with happiness as white light emitted from your heart

3. Repeat the procedure followed without a mirror while looking at photographs of yourself spanning your life, taking on any unresolved problems, blocked feelings, or emotional turmoil left from or still concerning those times

 
Corresponding Chapter 15 in Developing Balanced Sensitivity