When I experience happiness today, I will think, “Oh good, some happiness – now I can give!” When I’m not feeling so hot, I’ll think, “Oh good, here’s some suffering – now I can take!”
In this way I’ll bring the taking and giving meditation with me everywhere I go. There’s no reason to keep it confined to the peace of quiet reflection.
I’ll use my ever-shifting experiences as the fuel for the practice.
Why should I enjoy my pleasure for myself alone? I’d rather share it with others. Why should I let my pains and frustrations go to waste? I’d rather use them as reminders to think about others and develop compassion.
Even though this is done in the imagination, it’s powerful. My experiences consist of just a body with five senses and a mind. Why do I build this up into a great wall of “me?” Me all alone enclosed in this room, so I think.
The mind has no center nor boundaries. The thought grasping “I” as inherently existent is itself a product of imagination.
Imagining that I send out my happiness to all living beings will saturate the seemingly solid borders of my perceptions and dissolve them. My perceptions will not change. What this practice will transform is my sense of being an isolated individual, cut off from others and locked up in the cage of my head.
Love will be easy to cultivate from here!
But inevitably, as I am a sentient being, something will come my way that I just won’t know what to do with. When disappointment, sadness, anger, shock and dismay arise, I’ll cherish those experiences as the means to exhaust the suffering of all living beings.
“Even though it’s only me experiencing this unpleasantness, may I gather up all the unpleasant feelings experienced by everyone in the universe into this single one so they may be free.”
Just that thought will blow apart the conception that holds myself as an independent, unitary, all alone self. Left in its wake will be a spacious and relaxed mind at rest, content with anything that arises. With this, I can make each moment meaningful by building up love and compassion.
Today, I’ll extend myself to the world on fire. Living beings, my kin, are faced with myriad troubles. Instead of falling down into fear or distress, I’ll use this to give rise to courage and determination. I need this, and so does the world.