BHAKTI'S TONGLEN PRACTICE: How to Deal With the Suffering and Injustices of the World (JAI BHAKTI™ BLOG)
YOU CAN AFFECT A POSITIVE CHANGE!
Two weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit, I had emergency surgery to reconstruct my cervical spine. This meant that I was unable to volunteer, which I would have done had I not been laid up. Watching so many people suffer--and incensed as the US Government sat idly by with its bureaucratic thumbs up its bureaucratic arse-- left me in a state of despair. I spent my entire life helping others, and now I was stuck immobile on my parents' couch, watching the horror unfold on TV, unable to lift a finger to help. The physical pain I was experiencing, and the toll the nerve damage was taking on my physical body, meant nothing to me: My heart was breaking.
I expressed my dilemma with my dear friend, Meditation Master Sally Kempton:
"I feel useless, Sallyji! Why would I be rendered unable to help when so many people are suffering? I want so much to go down south to help. These people are suffering and I can't do a thing to help them."
I already knew that my meditation practice--everyone's meditation practice--effects a positive change in the world, but I could not reconcile why I would be given the capacity to give so much, and then not be able to help when so many thousands of people were in dire need of assistance.
Sally taught me the Buddhist practice called Tonglen, as taught to her by Pema Chödron. You can find Pema's Tonglen instructions in many of her fabulous books.
I tweaked the practice to better suit my situation. What remains hardly resembles Tonglen as it was taught to me, but the intention is the same, therefore I continue to call this practice Tonglen. Being virtually bedridden for the past nine years, I use this practice when I begin to feel discouraged that I am not able to be out in the world teaching, doing charity work, sharing my love of life with others, etc. When I feel my own suffering is in vain, I offer this practice to the world:
"May my suffering be enough for this world
so that no one else may have to suffer.
May my pain be enough for the world
So no one else may have to experience pain
May my level of physical discomfort be enough for this world
So that no one else may have to suffer this level of physical discomfort.
May my offering be enough
So that others may live in peace and good health.
Let my suffering be enough for this world.
May every being know
that he or she is being upheld by Grace.
Thank you for blessing me with this Life,
With this Grace,
With this Love.
I offer my life to Your service,
To the service of All.
May it be so.
And so it is."*
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the injustice and suffering in the world, I ask that you look deeply into these feelings. Label them ("I feel sad." "I feel helpless." "I feel scared." etc.), contemplate the feelings, and then create your own Tonglen based practice.
You will learn that, through your meditation and spiritual practices, you are effecting a positive change in this world. Moreover, through going deep in meditation (Raja Yoga), and by studying the Vedas (Jnana Yoga), the reality of existence reveals itself to you. You realize we are all exactly where we are meant to be at any given time. We are all playing roles: we have played them all before, and will continue to do so until Self Realization, and the cessation of the cycle of birth and death.
Tonglen is all about Love and Devotion (Bhakti Yoga) to the One who has become the many.
Love and All Great Blessings to You All
As my very own Self,
*©2005 DL Bhakti Brophy
©2014 DL Bhakti Brophy
All Rights Reserved