Cultivating a Compassionate Mind: Step 1

March 20, 2023   |   6 Comments

NOTE!! When I made this video, I had a black eye—as you can see. I slipped on ice! It looks worse than it felt and I totally fine now   xoxo S

Audio-only version is here.
Meditation practice begins at 13:36.

Dear Open Heart Project,

It is an honor to send you this first of four videos in a series called “Cultivating a Compassionate Mind.”

Is it possible to do this? Is it even desirable? You have to figure out your own answers. I hope these videos will assist you in that regard.

This video brings to mind the passing of Thích Nhất Hạnh who was the most extraordinary advocate for and teacher of compassion. He taught that love, whether sweet or fierce, was always possible, even in the most dire of circumstances. I feel that in some small way, to examine how to cultivate the mind of compassion is a tribute to him.

In the Buddhist view that I have studied, the mind of compassion arises under four circumstances:

  1. Affection for the World
  2. Faith in the Right Situations
  3. Warmth for Sentient Beings
  4. Bravery

I look forward to exploring it all with you.

With love, Susan

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  • Posted by:  Bonnie

    Dear Susan:

    I wish you well as you continue to recover from your very ouchie injury.

    Thank you for continuing to inspire and encourage me to keep coming back to meditation, no matter how long I’ve been avoiding it.

    Prince Edward Island

  • Posted by:  Joell

    I look forward to your videos every week and find them most grounding and helpful. I wondered if you would consider sending or having available on the site a meditation recording that includes the Heart Sutra chant, dedication of merit and blessing that could be accessed.

  • Posted by:  Laura

    As you were talking about slipping and falling on the ice, I was wondering, “Did anyone lend you a hand, did anyone help you or ask you if you needed help, ask if were you okay?” Then as I came back to listening to your words about affection for the world, I caught myself reacting to my questions above and assuming that “most likely the answers were, “No,” I bet nobody asked. And my affection for the world was challenged. I did all that within those few seconds of listening and realized that one of my difficulties lies in a problem I have with aggression . . . Which is another place in your talk that instantly grabbed me, the part about aggression.

    My affection for the world has been challenged throughout the last eleven years. Started out alright and slowly (in a quicker way than I was aware of) deteriorating into anger and

    I clearly needed to hear your words and meditation. It is said that “timing is everything.”

  • Posted by:  Patricia R. Coia

    Thank you for this reminder of why meditation is not only good but important.

  • Posted by:  Shiwa Chotso

    I wonder if “affection for the world” could be both tenderness and *tough love*. We can easily feel affectionate for those like us, but those feelings can be harder to summon for those *others* who we might feel have acted detrimentally toward us, our culture, our society, the well being in general.
    What sometimes helps me to dial back aggression (besides looking it in the eye) is to acknowledge that the *others* were once tiny babies, with all of the potential of new humans, often the product of love and the subject of love. Of course, not all babies are so fortunate in their birth. Even he-who-shall-not-be-named was once a baby, fed and protected, cared for. It’s easy to feel compassion for a baby, whom we know is helpless and in need of tending in order to live. I can still reject his actions and ideals for myself, even protest against them, but he did not just spring from nowhere – he’s the product of a lifetime of influences and choices.
    Recently I unearthed an old journal that I kept over a ten year period of turmoil. I winced at the aggression and pain that were spilled over its pages, at the misguided decisions and poor behavioral choices that produced such misery. Then I realized that there are five amazing humans (two children and three grandchildren) who would not have been on the earth if those actions had not occurred. I am working on compassion for that troubled young self, for the panicked lens through which she/I saw the world. If there is fierce love, perhaps there can also be fierce compassion.

  • Posted by:  amy oliff

    Oh , I just loved this.
    Thank you for this wonderful reminder about affection and compassion.

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