Weekly Insights from Meditation Classes You May Have Missed
By Joseph Giacona, Williamsburg Meditation Teacher
In our upcoming, new class series on Mondays starting March 13, we will explore the mind of love. Before we do, it's fundamental to recall that the nature of our mind is peaceful. We are already connected to peace, which we can access whenever we want. In meditation, we experience just a little bit of peace which is profound. A little bit of peace indicates the potential for lasting peace. That's why it is so important to do just a little bit of meditation everyday. The moment we drop the agitated thought, peace is there. Through regular meditation, we can stay with that peace for longer and longer periods of time. Eventually, we come to understand that there's no reason we can't be happier and more peaceful in our daily life. When we lose that feeling of peace during times of stress or heartache, we can easily focus on our breath until our mind settles, and once again connect back to our peaceful nature. Peacefulness is a moment-by-moment practice. As Geshe Kelsang would say, "There is no greater meaning than this."
In Buddhist practice we love definitions; this guards our spiritual practice against vagueness. Vague spirituality doesn't work. We need to be clear about what we are doing. So in terms of love, let's establish a working definition so we know exactly what it is; how we can improve upon it; and finally, be in a state of it all the time. (Yes, all the time.) Love is defined in Buddhism as the mind that appreciates another person, finds their happiness and freedom important, and wishes for them to be happy.
We all have a little bit of love in our hearts and this little bit of love is the seed for great love. Geshe Kelsang calls this "universal love" - an unbiased love that appreciates and cherishes all living beings. To start, we should remember that we're already starting with a little bit of love in our hearts. Therefore, we don't feel like we need to create love anew, but just build upon that little bit we already possess - either for people important to us, our pet, or even a stranger we smile at on the subway.
The first step to loving all living beings is to realize they want exactly what you want - happiness. We contemplate that in reality they are JUST like you in that they want happiness. Just as you want happiness, so do they. So, your wish for happiness is no more profound than theirs. They long for happiness moment-by-moment JUST like you do. And just as you find your own happiness important, it's only fair to find their happiness important. Why? Because they are just like you! This is one of Buddha's profound insights. Normally, we think our happiness is paramount to others. At some level we recognize that others want happiness, but we don't recognize that they want happiness just as strongly and powerfully as we all do.
So as you're walking about, on the subway, at work, traveling, enjoying yourself, think to yourself:
"This person, that person, him, her, they, ze, are just like me. They want to be happy JUST like me. Their happiness is just as important as mine. Their happiness matters."
This meditation is so easy because we're so often around other people. Here in New York City, we have a very special opportunity to train in love because we are surrounded by living beings all the time. We can be training in love throughout our day, day after day. Using this meditation practice - literally in motion - will facilitate your progress towards universal love very fast. Soon, you will have a love that cherishes all living beings equally. If we all did this love meditation, think about how much easier it would be to solve all of our daily and even, global problems.
So for example, when you are on the subway look around and think, "These people are important; their happiness matters." Allow yourself to recognize that these people matter, their happiness matters, their freedom matters. If you get it right, you'll experience this warm-hearted closeness for them. You'll actually feel love. This feeling of closeness and connection to others will melt away the normal sense of distance and isolation you feel with regards to others, in general and especially on the subway. You'll know exactly what is going on in their heart - they are longing for happiness just like you - and you can't help but to love them. You will be in love, in a state of love.
Meditation for this Week
First, connect to your breath, bring your mind back to it over and over until your mind settles and that natural peace and stillness arises in your mind. Then, within that space of peace, connected to your potential, ask yourself: “Do I appreciate others? Do I find their happiness and freedom important? Do I wish for them to be happy?”
Think of someone who brings you joy and ask yourself: “Do I appreciate this person? Do I find them important? Do I find their happiness and freedom important? Do I wish them to be happy? Maybe yes, you already do have some love for this person, how wonderful if we could deepen and improve upon this love.
Now think of someone with whom you have some difficulty, and contemplate: "This person is just like me. Our superficial likes and dislikes don't matter. We may have different opinions or make different choices, but at heart, we are the same. We both want happiness, and we wish for it moment-by-moment in exactly the same way." Hold this profound insight until you feel close to this person, you appreciate them, and understand they matter. Then, with your eyes closed just hang out with this feeling and understanding. Mix your mind with it and enjoy this feeling of real love for as long as possible.
The Unmistaken Dharma
What Geshe la says. . .
“Although we regard each of our fingers and thumbs as precious, we would be prepared to sacrifice one to save the other nine, while sacrificing nine to save one would be absurd. Similarly, nine people are more important than one, so of course countless living beings are more important than oneself alone. It follows that it is logical to cherish others at least as much as we cherish ourselves.”
Send Us Your Story & No-selfie
Lily M. shares her experience: "It's hard to put into words the impact that the Meditation in Williamsburg classes have had on my life since I began attending a year and a half ago. While I still struggle to combat anxiety and attachment, it has been completely transformative to recognize that all of my problems are ultimately coming from my un-peaceful, controlling & tight states of mind as opposed to the outside circumstance itself. Now, instead of fearing situations or outcomes that are outside of my control, I am more focused on redirecting that fear towards my state of mind with regards to the situation, recognizing that the only thing I ever truly have control of in my life is my attitude. No matter what is going on now in my life, whether it's a conflict at work, in romance, or the scary political landscape, I take comfort in knowing that I can come to class every week and gain perspective or meditate and relax back into the truth -- that with a peaceful mind, there is no problem that I can't approach with compassion and patience."
See Lily's notes from class below she uses for inspiration. Give it a try yourself!
Starting Monday, March 13:
A 12-Session Class on Love
Learn & Experience True Love
Everybody knows they want to love and be loved, but what actually is love? According to Buddha, the special feeling that we call love isn’t something outside of ourselves that we need to find and fall into. Rather it’s a special experience within ourselves that we all have. In a special 12-session class, we'll take you though specific mediations and Dharma talks to help you create universal love to tap into at any moment.
Join us on Mondays starting on March 13 at 7:00 PM.
Social Sharegraphic of the Week
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Click here to share this pearl of wisdom from Geshe la on Facebook.
Happiness is a state of mind, so the real source of happiness must lie within the mind, not in external conditions. If our mind is pure and peaceful we will be happy, regardless of our external circumstances, but if it is impure and unpeaceful we can never be truly happy, no matter how hard we try to change our external conditions.
Get your Dharma on and come to class!
Please arrive 10-15 minutes early to check in and get settled. We unfortunately cannot accommodate late arrivals because our volunteer receptionists participate in the class. The directions are below.
NOTE: Though each day covers a specific topic, each session is a stand alone lesson and can be taken in any order.
Sunday - Journey to Lasting Happiness
11:00 AM - 12:30PM
New Class Series: Monday, March 13: Meditations on Love
7:00 PM - 8:30PM
Wednesday - Freedom from Anxiety
8:00 PM - 9:30PM
Thursday - Freedom from Painful Emotions
8:00 PM - 9:30PM
New class series will be added to the schedule in the coming weeks and months.
Directions to the Center
119 North 11th Street (between Bedford & Berry Streets)
Unit 1 C / Ring Buzzer for Kadampa Meditation Center Williamsburg Branch
By Train: L / Bedford Ave or the G / Metropolitan
By Bus: M7, M15, B37, B43, B44, B52, B60, B62
Street parking is available.