Compassion: Focusing on the Blatant Suffering
Summary: This afternoon we went into a very practical and powerful practice on Compassion, focusing on the blatant, glaring, obvious pain that can arise in both the physical and mental domains of experience. Alan starts by giving a brief overview of this blatant suffering, and what can be done to cure it mentally, including praise for the pharmaceutical industry in relieving the symptoms. He then highlights how this blatant suffering is something we have all experienced, and how it really can take posession of our entire (untrained) minds and not let us focus on anything else. After this very useful meditation, we followed up yesterday's topic of Bodhicitta. First, Alan answered that it may in fact be possible to be a Bodhisattva without knowing it, and even be a Bodhisattva while preaching another religion or having almost all types of jobs. He also makes a reference to a study which suggests that babies may be undergoing past life recall sometime during their third trimester of gestation. This time Alan covers a different way to develop Bodhicitta, with more of a "discovery" approach. For this, Alan draws on the magnificent text, "The Vajra Essence," and talks about Dzogchen. We also go into a brief, fun, and very enlightening tangent about monastic debating, complete with authentic sound effects from Alan dating back to his debating days. After the discussion of Bodhicitta, we have a brief question from Enrique about overcoming coarse laxity and stages 4-5 in Shamatha practice, and a final anonymous question about etiquette issues which sadly got cut off due to an electrical problem, but this time it was only 1 minute before Alan ended anyway so not much was lost! So read up on some gompa etiquette if you are interested. At first I thought of using a picture of some debating monks, but then I decided on this NASA picture. For the first time instead of using a distant galaxy I am using our planet, where we can immediately see the enormous ammount of blatant suffering in order to inspire us to realize Bodhicitta and achieve perfect Enlightenment to be able to liberate every single sentient being from suffering.