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Breathing In, Breathing Out

This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

A Goldmine of Suffering - Diane Hamilton/Ken Wilber

The Trinity: Love Loving Love - Fr. Thomas Keating

A Goldmine of Suffering (audio)

Perhaps one of the most powerful meditative practices of all is the Buddhist practice of Tonglen.  In fact, when, near the end of his life, the noted Tibetan Buddhist and “crazy wisdom” teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was asked what sort of meditation he practiced, he is said to have answered, “Tonglen, baby!”  In an exquisite interchange in this week’s featured audio, ISC Teachers Ken Wilber and Diane Hamilton share the practice with I-I Member Richard Munn. 

It is said that the whole of the spiritual life is breathing in and breathing out.  In Tonglen practice, one breathes in the suffering of sentient beings, and breathes out compassion.  Self and other are exchanged, thus bridging the subject-object dualism that many other techniques implicitly reinforce.  In Tonglen, those boundaries drop, resulting in extraordinary depth.  The nearly limitless suffering of all sentient beings can be taken into the infinite Heart, and from its deep wells, compassion is abundantly given in return.

While from a rational point of view, such practices might be frowned upon as being ineffective—or even counterproductive—there is much evidence to indicate that something very real, if inexplicable, is in fact going on.  Indeed, Alfred North Whitehead warned against “simple location,” the notion that phenomena can be easily located in space and time.  Practices such as Tonglen and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (in which one visualizes Jesus’ Heart pouring out compassion on oneself and the world) have long maintained that reality in the subtle realm can manifest in the gross realm.  What seems miraculous in the latter is a simple, natural movement of the former.  To put it integral terms:  one person's practice can help to create Kosmic habits that benefits countless others in that person's footsteps. 

The experience of one’s own suffering can provide an exquisite opportunity to practice Tonglen.  Perhaps no one better understands suffering than those in its midst.  In this sort of meditation, one accepts both one’s own suffering and that of those who likewise suffer, eventually including the suffering of all beings.  “Life is suffering,” holds the First Noble Truth.  But nonetheless, the intention of the Bodhisattva is held as deeply:  “may all beings be free from suffering….”

The Trinity: Love Loving Love

Fr. Thomas Keating unpacks one of the most profound doctrines of Christianity, in this excerpt from the autumn 2021 Integral Contemplative Christianity seminar.

Published Tuesday, April 29, 2021 1:13 PM by rollie


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