TAKING AND GIVING (TONG-LEN)
Having contemplated equanimity, seeing all beings as our mothers and wishing to repay their kindness, examining the faults of cherishing oneself and the advantages of cherishing others, we extend that even further to train our minds in exchanging thoughts of self-cherishing to that of cherishing others. We imagine taking on the suffering of others and giving to them whatever it is that will bring them happiness. By being aware that we all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering, as do all creatures, we train the mind, thinking how once we ignored the needs of others in favor of our own needs. Instead we think, from now on I will cultivate the compassionate wish to cherish others. When we first think of doing this we may feel that it isn’t possible for us to take on the suffering of others, when we are struggling with our own problems. It’s easier to begin therefore by taking upon ourselves our own future suffering and give to ourselves our love and whatever we might need at the time. We can then extend our practice to a loved one as the object of our compassion and then when we have gained more confidence extending out to strangers and even “enemies”, in fact to all beings.