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Gomchen Lamrim review: Homage to compassion

Part of a series of teachings on the Gomchen Lamrim by Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa. Visit Gomchen Lamrim Study Guide for a full list of contemplation points for the series.

  • Bodhicitta as the source of everything good in the world
  • The causes for bodhisattvas
  • How to generate compassion in the mind
  • Guided meditation on generating compassion through the analogy of the water wheel
  • Guided meditation on generating compassion through reflecting on the dukkha of sentient beings

Gomchen Lamrim 69 review: Homage to compassion (download)

Contemplation points

The water wheel

Imagine a bucket traveling in a well, tied to a wheel, controlled by an operator, going up to the top and down to the bottom over and over. It is drawn up with difficulty and strain, and easily descends back down to the bottom, clattering against the sides of the well, being battered and broken as it swings. Consider:

  1. Just as the bucket is tied by the rope, so we are bound by our past actions, contaminated by the afflicted emotions of attachment, anger, and ignorance.
  2. Just as the turning wheel depends on a person operating it, so our wandering in samsara depends upon consciousness.
  3. Just as the bucket travels down to the bottom of the well and up to the top, so we travel among the stations of samsara, being born over and over again. We don’t know what kind of form we will have in our next life, what ones we’ve had in previous lives, where we have lived before as hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, demigods, and gods.
  4. Just as the bucket descends easily in the well, but is difficult to draw upwards, even with hard work, our own tendencies of mind, our attachment, anger, ignorance, are such that we are easily drawn down into lower states of existence.
  5. So to interrupt that movement to the lower states, and move towards the higher states, we must put strong effort into our practice.

Wishing ourselves and others to be free of dukkha

Begin this contemplation by considering yourself:

  1. Imagine in front of you a replica of yourself.
  2. Reflect on the various sufferings/dukkha (dukkha of pain, dukkha of change, dukkha of pervasive conditioning).
  3. See yourself and your own unhappiness due to being subject to sickness, loss of a dear one, a sense of loneliness.
  4. Now wish yourself to be free from these conditions and their causes, Imagine what it would be like to be free from these. Really feel the newfound freedom from insecurity, fear, anxiety, anger, emotional neediness, and also have a strong sense of freedom from ignorance.

Next, do the same reflection towards teachers, those you respect:

  1. Be aware of the various suffering/dukkha/unhappiness, and extend that to the subtler levels of dukkha.
  2. Imagine that they are free from these conditions and their causes.

Now, turn your attention to strangers (Maybe you drove to town today and saw someone and can barely remember their face… Do the same meditation):

  1. First reflect on the various dukkha and unhappiness of this being.
  2. Then, go also into a subtler meditation on three kinds of dukkha.
  3. Then wish them to be free of these conditions and their causes.
  4. Imagine them to be free from ignorance, fear, anger, and such.

Now we apply this meditation to those we don’t like, people we disapprove of or feel threatened by, those who have harmed us in the past:

  1. If we really have great difficulties, we remember that they did that harm due to their internal unhappiness. People harm others when they themselves are unhappy.
  2. Imagine what this person would feel like if he/she were free from that pain and misery.

Now include all beings in your meditation:

  1. Wish each of them to be free from all kinds of suffering and their causes.
  2. Rest your mind in that compassionate thought.

Conclusion: To finish this practice, let’s go back to what His Holiness the Dalai Lama said in his book on compassion:

Spiritual practice is removing suffering on a deeper level. So these techniques involve an adjustment of attitude. So spiritual education basically means adjusting your thoughts in a beneficial way. This means that by adjusting counterproductive attitudes, you are held back from a particular kind of suffering and are thereby freed from it. Spiritual education protects or holds you and others back from misery.

Venerable Thubten Jampa

Ven. Thubten Jampa (Dani Mieritz) is from Hamburg, Germany. She took refuge in 2001. She has received teachings and training from e.g. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dagyab Rinpoche (Tibethouse Frankfurt) and Geshe Lobsang Palden. Also she received teachings from Western teachers from the Tibetan Center in Hamburg. Ven. Jampa studied politics and sociology for 5 years at the Humboldt-University in Berlin and received her diploma in Social Science in 2004. From 2004 to 2006 she worked as a Volunteer Coordinator and fundraiser for the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) in Berlin. In 2006, she traveled to Japan and practiced Zazen in a Zen monastery. Ven. Jampa moved to Hamburg in 2007, to work and study at the Tibetan Center-Hamburg where she worked as an event manager and in administration. On August 16, 2010, she received the Anagarika vows from Ven. Thubten Chodron, which she kept while fullfilling her obligations at the Tibetan Center in Hamburg. In October 2011, she entered training as an Anagarika at Sravasti Abbey. On January 19, 2013, she received both the novice and training ordinations (sramanerika and siksamana). Ven. Jampa organizes retreats and supports events at the Abbey, helps with offering service coordination and supports the health of the forest. She is a facilitator for the Friends of Sravasti Abbey Friends online education program (SAFE).