Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/16/2019

Dana Paramita and Tonglen

Here is a verse that is part of my Daily Practice Book and is taken from Arya Shantideva:

I shall give away fully with no sense of loss
My body, enjoyments and all merits of the three times
To accomplish the work for all sentient beings.

Experimenting and practicing with tonglen, I have found that I’m not enough of a bodhisattva to really benefit myself or anyone else from the practice. I yet lack insight into anatta and really do think there is a me who should be suffering when I seek to take on the sufferings of other beings. As an experiment, I have attempted to do tonglen while standing in a freezing cold shower and the idea of adding more suffering of the same kind onto that situation had me jumping out of the stream of water in seconds. However, when I focused on sending metta and karuna instead of imagined taking on others’ suffering I was able to stay in the shower for much longer.

It kind of bears out the point of the book Against Empathy I read some time ago (or listened to) and goes to the point that I can yet pursue this path but need to constantly be evaluating the practices that I am undertaking and their effects. So, rather than taking on suffering, maybe I should focus on giving. There’s enough there to satisfy renunciate tendencies without weakening me through unnecessary suffering (no sch thing as redemptive suffering in the Dhamma).

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