Posted by: Michael Rickicki | 10/26/2017

Tonglen and a Planet-sized Nebula of Suffering

This morning, after my half hour of zazen I turned to the brahmaviharas. After chuckling through a handful of people I ended up easing into tonglen. At first I was breathing in the suffering of individuals and sending them ease and light, then I began to turn to areas like my apartment. Before I knew it I was breathing in the sufferings of all beings obviously the planet.

Initially, there was a ton of fear and trepidation: how could one small being like myself take over the suffering of billions of beings? The insects dying by the millions as a result of mass produced poisons, the millions of children dying from cholera and famine, the fish and marine life suffocating in the ever-growing hypoxic zones of the oceans. I felt as though I was being crushed under it all. But, somewhere a voice told me to keep going. The conviction to just stick with it arose. And I did.

What happened next wasn’t extraordinary but the pain began to ease and, as I exhaled light and metta, I gained a confidence that, regardless of how small I was, I could still help. The amazing thing was simply that the sense of futility and hopelessness had gone. Sabbe satta sabba dukkha pamuccantu!

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Shillelagh Studies

A hub for the music, culture, knowledge, and practice of Irish stick-fighting, past and present.