Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/18/2019

Premeditatio Malorum and Tonglen

The idea of meditating on the worst possible scenarios to acquaint the mind with then and thereby remove the shock and sting is probably my favorite Stoic meditation technique. It has analogs in the Dhamma such as the death contemplation and the Five Subjects for Frequent Recollection but, perhaps due to a dearth of surviving texts, the Stoic approach seems more free form and open ended.

This morning I spent some time considering the death of my children due to climate change driven famine. It was heart-wrenching to say the least to imagine them crying out in pain, their faces hollowed out and sunken; the light in their eyes extinguished. Even now it’s painful to write. At this point I breathed in their suffering and breathed out succor and health. Finally, I finished with metta to myself and to them individually.

The truth is that we will all die. The truth is that we don’t know how or when. Why not make the best of these days by preparing ourselves to meet death with open eyes and a heart full of compassion and love?

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