Monthly Archives: November 2018


Joseph Goldstein once told Sylvia Boorstein in an interview, “Your attention is good. Use it to pay closer attention.You have a lot of Energy available to you. Don’t squander it!” She says of this, “The urgency of the task–it’s painful to suffer, and there is so little time to undo a lifetime, maybe more, of habits of suffering!–is a compelling call to pay attention all the time, not letting the mind be seduced into daydreams. Here are questions you could ask yourself during the day, on a bus, at work, at home looking out the window: “What’s going on here that I don’t see?” “What am I missing?” “What could I be seeing that would open my heart or lift it up?” You could think of it as contemplation practice, reflecting on the present moment, expecting to learn something new. The expectation energizes attention.”


The Four Immeasurable Minds are loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. Typically, we are taught to begin the practice with meditation on loving-kindness. But, Patrul Rinpoche in his Words of My Perfect Teacher stresses the need for meditating on equanimity first because this removes the danger of having partial or biased love, partial or biased compassion. When we begin on the path, there is a strong tendency to have stronger love towards those we like and lesser love towards those we don’t like. Once we have developed wisdom with this meditation, it becomes true love, which cares for each and every person without any bias. This is the purest compassion because it cares for everyone.

We meditate first to cultivate impartiality or equanimity, then we go on to meditate on the others, and thereby develop bodhicitta. Equanimity means not being influenced by attachment or aggression (cultivating the heart that does not dwell in aversion). Loving-kindness means wanting everyone to attain happiness. Compassion means wanting to free everyone from suffering. Joy means rejoicing in the success and happiness of everyone, delighting when sentient beings are in peace and happiness. Bodhisattvas are not jealous of the sentient beings’ achievement. They regard the achievement of the sentient beings being the same or even better than that of their own. Bodhisattvas have the immeasurable mind of joy. So the chant is said in this way:

May I dwell in equanimity free from attachment, aggression and ignorance. May I attain happiness. May I be free from suffering. May I rejoice in the success and happiness of all beings.

As we sit, we begin by thinking of ourselves first, chanting these aspirations for our own freedom, then we think of our loved ones, the neutral person–some one we see frequently but don’t know really–then, our benefactor or mentor, the difficult one,  and then all beings everywhere. We can go through all of the “categories” in one sitting or practice with each one for as long as it takes for the wish to become genuine. We could even say this spontaneously when we see someone or hear of someone who is suffering and needs energetic and spiritual support. However this practice is done, it will certainly be beneficial to us, and to those we think of with loving-kindness–metta.


Pema Chodron wrote, “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”