Author Topic: Loving others and Loving Yourself  (Read 1698 times)

Offline aitchbud

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Loving others and Loving Yourself
« on: November 10, 2011, 10:40:12 am »
Hi Everyone,

I'm gradually developing a practice that works for me and doubt is always the big hurdle I find - probably the reason some people like myself bounce from one practice to another.

The problem I always run into with loving kindness, or compassion towards others is a philosophical one I think. I admit to not having the best relationship with myself and am quick to be critical of myself. I have read, in many contexts, that to love others you must first love yourself. I have always found this idea disturbing, because, I find loving others a lot easier than myself! I read a quote by the Dalai Lama recently that seemed to go against this idea -

"From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.

The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life."

So from this I take heart that it's possible to develop a better relationship with myself through the love of others.

The reason this is pertinent to me at the moment is I am trying to apply practice to my everyday life, and being methodical about it I want to apply specific practice to specific situations as well as formal seated practice. I don't want to further increase my suffering as it were by applying practice wrongly and the idea of loving others being impossible without self love leads me to worry about practicing a compassionate attitude to others when I'm in a social situation such as work. However, I have found generally speaking that practicing is this way is beneficial - so I wondered what observations people might have - or advise about applying the mindset of compassion in everyday life?

As far as developing love towards myself, I don't want to leave that unattended, and I think an ethical, responsible way of being is a good start in line with the 8 fold path - I guess the first stage of Metta Bhavana is also condusive to this.

Apologies if this is rambling, I've written down my thoughts as they came to me!

Thanks

Aitchbud.

Offline Hanzze

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2011, 08:02:45 pm »
Quote
No Boundaries to loving Kindness



There is nothing more glorious than peace. When we stabilize our posture and calm our mind, we can realize peace within ourselves. Then we can radiate loving kindness to those around us - our family, our community, our nation, and our world.
We can meditate like this: “May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from anger. May I be free from suffering.”
Why must we love ourselves first? Because peace begins with the individual. It is only loving ourselves first that we are able to extend love to others. Charity begins at home. By protecting ourselves, we protect the whole world. By loving ourselves, we love the whole world. When we say, “May I be happy,” we are speaking for everyone. The whole world is one. Life is one. We are all of the same Buddha nature.
Loving kindness is a very powerful energy. It radiates to all beings, without distinction. It radiates to our loved ones, to those toward whom we feel indifferent, and to our enemies. There are no boundaries to loving kindness. The Dharma is founded in loving kindness. The Buddha saw the whole world with compassion. And so, our prayer for personal happiness naturally grows naturally into a prayer for everyone, “May the whole world be happy and free from suffering.”
Buddhist scriptures describe the merits of loving kindness meditation. They tell us that those who practice loving kindness sleep well. They have no bad dreams. They can focus their minds quickly. Their minds are clear and calm. They have no nervousness. No fire, poison, or weapons will harm them. They can solve all the problems of the world. They are loved by all sentient beings. Their complexion becomes clear. They will attain nirvana. Altogether, there are fifty-two blessings derived from meditation on loving kindness.
When we love all beings, we gain the blessing of fearlessness. Our speech and all of our physical and mental actions become clear, and we become free.
The greatest happiness is found in living without egoism. This is one of the fruits of loving kindness. Another is contentment with life as it is. Life often seems burdensome, but it becomes easy when we stop struggling. Moment after moment, step by step, we can experience life as something light and pleasant. There is no need to hurry!
With loving kindness, we are like fish in clear water, never submerged by the burdens of the world. We float down the stream of time, easily, from moment to moment. We have complete peace in our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind, because we controll all of our senses. We have clear comprehension about the purpose of our life and about how to live happily. We also have clear comprehension about the object of our concentration and about I, my, and me. The Buddha said, “There is no I, my, or me,” and this becomes clear when we put loving kindness into practice.
Typically, we are selfish about our family, money, dwelling, name, and fame, and also about Dharma. But when we put loving kindness into practice, we become generous. We give food, shelter, and the Dharma freely to all.
Loving kindness also means friendliness. With loving kindness, all enmity is transformed. Our enemies will no longer hate us and, eventually, they will return our loving kindness to us, as friends.

Yes, my friends, that is loving kindness.

from "Step by Step" by Maha Ghosananda


I would not use the word love, actually it leads to great misunderstanding. Normal worldly love is strong attachment and always mixed up with emotions and feelings.
Real Metta has nothing to do with feelings, these are thoughts of good will which lead, when practiced right, to a mind state of all embracing metta. Metta as long as it is not mixed with emotions, has no danger of suffering. Neither for one self nor for others and if our thoughts are able to reach every being and the whole universe, its our protection and the protection for the whole universe.
To start to have good will with one self is often not easy. Why? Because we "know" us well. We "know" our faults our acts, we know that we actually have no real problem. Out of this "knowing" we thinks that we our self, do not need that much support of good will like other, but actually this "knowing" is a misunderstanding.
We often do not see the causes and effects. If we our self are well (at peace) we would automatically support others in our behavior, in our appearance.
Buddhist practice is effective for one self and all beings from the beginning, in the middle and at the end. At the beginning we take our motivation and our effort onesided. Some do it for the welfare for others, some do it for the own welfare. How ever we start, if we do it right, its always for both.
We start with the practice of letting go or some would say generosity. When we share things that we have already to much, we support other, help other, but more important than this is that we learn to let go of things we are attached to. When we do it because we think we can purposefully help others or out of the will to change things, we will suffer under our prospects. If we just meaningless let go of our possession, we will also not reach any result. I both ways, there is attachment included, sometimes like, sometimes dislike. To experiences this and learn the first steps we start with practicing Dana (generosity). Its an act of compassion, for one self and for all others. We our self learn to let go of things and reach ease while others have a free share without strings on our practice.
The next step and much more compassionate as the first (we can not practice Dana continually for ever) is virtue.  When we stop killing, we reduce directly harming. When we stop taking what is not given, we take a step of the struggle for material gains in the world. When we stop lying we give the truth and peace a bigger base to grow. What ever unwholesome actions we reduce, we reduce directly without failure the suffering in our world. This compassion meet every being suddenly and our self at the same time. It a bigger protection than any thing else in the world.
The third step is bhavana. Actually it helps us to make the first and second step perfect. Its a constant reminder why we are doing what we are doing. For our own welfare and for the welfare of all other beings and the next generations as well.
Even if we have not found a good connection to our self, meditation helps us to realize the importance to start by our self. Sometimes it starts with the strange realization that we find it difficult to "love" better accept our self and to help our self's. When we start to see that the suffering in our world is deeply connected with our own suffering, our own acting because we are not at peace, because we are still full of hatred and desire, we will soon start to focus on the root of the problem and the base where we really can help others in an not hypocritical and real effective way.
When we have reach the point to develop our heart and mind after having done the first very important steps, we have reached the heartwood of metta, we have reached the place where we can change the world for our self and all others.


As there are many misunderstandings of metta I found this essay very useful to understand what is mean with metta:

Metta Means Goodwill - by ven. Bhikkhu Thanissaro

What ever feet we start to develop, its good to change to develop the other. If we are easily attached (positive or negative) to others, its good to focus on being more attached to our self. At the beginning compassion and metta toward others is nothing else than pity and selfpity. Its good to change the focus if we find it easy to sacrifice or effort for others and it is good to change the focus if we find it easy to sacrifice or effort just for our self.
The perfect practice comes along if we bring both together and realize that what ever we do in a good way inside will effect outside and everything outside will effect inside. There is no different.

Today there s so much "compassion" but so less wisdom in our world, a mass on attachment and the mass of suffering out of it. Starting by one self for the sake of others was what the Buddha did. We can follow him, or just follow his advices: to help our self. Both runs out to the same result, we just need to be honest to our self.


Quote
The Bamboo Acrobat

[The Buddha addressed the monks:]
Once upon a time, monks, a bamboo acrobat, setting himself upon his bamboo pole, addressed his assistant Medakathalika: "Come you, my dear Medakathalika, and climbing up the bamboo pole, stand upon my shoulders." "Okay, master" the assistant Medakathalika replied to the bamboo acrobat; and climbing up the bamboo pole she stood on the master's shoulders. So then the bamboo acrobat said this to his assistant Medakathalika: "You look after me, my dear Medakathalika, and I'll look after you. Thus with us looking after one another, guarding one another, we'll show off our craft, receive some payment, and safely climb down the bamboo pole." This being said, the assistant Medakathalika said this to the bamboo acrobat: "That will not do at all, master! You look after yourself, master, and I will look after myself. Thus with each of us looking after ourselves, guarding ourselves, we'll show off our craft, receive some payment, and safely climb down from the bamboo pole. That's the right way to do it!"

[The Buddha said:]
Just like the assistant Medakathalika said to her master: "I will look after myself," so should you, monks, practice the establishment of mindfulness. You should (also) practice the establishment of mindfulness (by saying) "I will look after others." Looking after oneself, one looks after others. Looking after others, one looks after oneself. And how does one look after others by looking after oneself? By practicing (mindfulness), by developing (it), by doing (it) a lot. And how does one look after oneself by looking after others? By patience, by non-harming, by loving kindness, by caring (for others). (Thus) looking after oneself, one looks after others; and looking after others, one looks after oneself.[/size]


Translator's note

What a vivid image of insight meditation!

The practice of mindfulness requires the focused attention of an acrobat balancing on a bamboo pole. One lapse, one moment of distraction or carelessness, and he tumbles to the ground. The picture is one of intensive inner awareness and concentration — almost a matter of life and death.

But the Buddha's parable goes even further, for the safety and well being of the bamboo acrobat's beloved assistant also hangs upon the master's successful practice of mindfulness.

The story is telling us that ultimately we are responsible for our own balance, and would be foolish to direct our attention to others while neglecting our own inner focus. And yet others are directly affected by how well we do this. Insight meditation is not a selfish undertaking, because the quality of our interaction with all those around us depends on the degree of our own self-understanding and self-control.




*smile*

Offline 0118401

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2011, 05:40:26 pm »
I raised this question once, and a friend quoted from the first verse of the Dhammapada 'Speak or act with an impure mind and trouble will follow you like the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart'. I found this quite helpful. When we are mindful and have ethical discipline we will naturally feel good about ourselves, and vice versa. We ourselves are as much the objects of Buddhas loving kindness as all other beings. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso also explains that due to Buddha exchanging self with others, all sentient beings (including ourselves) are in the nature of the protector himself.   

Offline aitchbud

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2011, 02:54:41 pm »
Thanks for your responses - since I posted I've meditated on this and 'discovered' the space to just accept my suffering rather than problem solve, avoid, push away suffering - it's clear that an acceptance of self is key to a developing practice and your words have helped me in that. I hope others struggling with an acceptance of self come to understand the importance of opening to what is.

Aitchbud.

Offline katersy

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2011, 12:27:14 pm »
I often find that I'm most critical in others of what I dislike most in myself... so perhaps to be truly compassionate to others and their weaknesses you have to have compassion towards yourself and your own faults and weaknesses.
"Everything has been figured out, except how to live."

"She believed in nothing; Only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist."

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2011, 02:58:31 am »
I often find that I'm most critical in others of what I dislike most in myself... so perhaps to be truly compassionate to others and their weaknesses you have to have compassion towards yourself and your own faults and weaknesses.

 :namaste:

Offline Lobster

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2012, 03:28:51 am »
Quote
I often find that I'm most critical in others of what I dislike most in myself.

This central realisation that how we respond to the world is reflective of our inner life is indeed worth reminding ourselves.

In Sangha (community of friends) we try to reflect virtue and generate a positive outcome in others.

If we are very skillful we may provide medicine that is unpleasant or bitter but if our intent is pure and direct, the eventual essence will be achievable . . .

In the words of the Buddha
'Wake up and have a nice day'  :hug:

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2012, 01:27:52 pm »
I often find that I'm most critical in others of what I dislike most in myself... so perhaps to be truly compassionate to others and their weaknesses you have to have compassion towards yourself and your own faults and weaknesses.
:Approval:

Three people agree with a post--a record!
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline Hanzze

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2012, 07:16:42 pm »
To let the joy of unity do not grow to a kind of illusory security... I made the experience that people saying: "You must love your self" or "you need to have compassion which your self." mislead people easily, as the message is not well understood as long as we do not understand the effects of love (tanha) and compassion of ordinary man (self-pity).

I prefer to say: "You suffering is nothing but selfish!! Start to get rid of it, you hurt others as well."

Offline ground

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2012, 07:43:06 pm »
Too much habitual conditioned thinking in terms of "I" and "mine" and "others" here.

With love
« Last Edit: January 10, 2012, 07:44:46 pm by TMingyur. »

Offline Hanzze

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2012, 08:37:06 pm »
"with love" comes always after "I" *smile*

Dislike paired with like lead to some disruption, indeed.

The Lonely Path

Whatever there is in the mind: If our reasons aren't yet good enough, we can't let it go. In other words, there are two sides: this side here and that side there. People tend to walk along this side or along that side. There's hardly anybody who walks along the middle. It's a lonely path. When there's love, we walk along the path of love. When there's hatred, we walk along the path of hatred. If we try to walk by letting go of love and hatred, it's a lonely path. We aren't willing to follow it.

« Last Edit: January 10, 2012, 08:44:36 pm by Hanzze »

Offline ground

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2012, 09:38:24 pm »
"with love" comes always after "I" *smile*
No it orginates from fingers typing on a keyboard.

Dislike paired with like lead to some disruption, indeed.
So better to let go of both.

Offline Hanzze

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2012, 11:28:11 pm »
Unsupported (unaware) *smile*

Offline Lobster

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Re: Loving others and Loving Yourself
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2012, 12:14:03 pm »
Venerable Robina Courtin speaks on becoming our own therapist
at Google talks


It is very accessible and applicable to the Western mentality.
A practical and real means to improve our being.  :dharma:

 


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