Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 05/27/2014

Imagining Compassion

One of the techniques that I have lately found to be incredibly powerful and which I first encountered in teachings from Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins is that of imagining horrifying and hellish situations with a view to generating compassion for all beings in the scenario. Hopkins uses some descriptions of the various punishments to be found in the narakas (Hell Realms) as described in the Scriptures and how imagining oneself or another undergoing these infernal tortures helps to immediately activate a strong feeling of compassion.

For myself, I have often had difficulty connecting with the heart but this techfnique immediately clears away the doubts and cobwebs and clearly shows that I do have the wish to alleviate others’ suffering. Incidentally, we are also asked to imagine ourselves as the subject of the punishments and to generate compassion not only for ourselves but for the Hell wardens as well. I am intrigued and inspired but have as yet been able to do the latter.

Anyway, this type of practice has lead me to reexamine, once more, the role of imagination in our spitiual development. Clearly, without a well-formed faculty of fantasy it would be hard for such techniques to have their full effect. Fortunately for me, I grew up on a diet of sci-fi and high fantasy and have always had an interest in the Hell realms of all religions.

It may seem to be a little over the top and I certainly can’t see this type of practice being recommended for all but it has completey renewed and re-invigorated my approach. Sabbe satt sabba dukkha pamuccantu!


  1. I may find the book.


    • I will send you a copy.

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