Welcome to our latest suggested practise for the week. We are now broadcasting a live teaching each Monday evening. If you would like to participate please contact us using the contact form on the homepage.
1.0) If you feel so inclined, begin by reciting the usual prayers (please follow below links for text). Alternatively, try to think or articulate a wish for all beings to achieve liberation from suffering, etc .
Four Thoughts: contemplating each in turn – https://northantsbuddhists.com/the-four-thoughts/
Refuge Prayer: twice in Tibetan, once in English – https://northantsbuddhists.com/the-refuge-prayer/
2.0) The 4 Immeasurables for condolence to a Buddhist friend – Presented by Bob Pollak
The 4 Immeasurables for condolence to a Buddhist friend
When a Buddhist friend experiences a death in their family, what should we say or write?
The Buddhist view of death
According to Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang:
“In the teaching of the Buddha, all of us will pass away eventually as a part in the natural process of birth, old-age and death and that we should always keep in mind the impermanence of life – the life that we all cherish and wish to hold onto. In Buddhism, however, death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our spirit will still remain and seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life.”
The Buddhist view of grief
This does not suggest that a Buddhist feels no pain at the loss of someone dear. The natural responses to death are fully human, heartfelt, rich in memories, and a sadness that time shared in this life’s journey cannot occur again. Grief reminds each of us that everything is impermanent. The thought of losing life’s vigour and identity is perplexing and disturbing. What comes next?
Confronted by grief
Joan Halifax, Head Teacher at Upaya Zen Center, characterizes grief as “the heavy stones that will eventually be the ballast for the two great accumulations of wisdom and compassion.” Halifax shared the paradox she confronted when her mother was dying:
• be a “good Buddhist” and follow the teachings of letting go or,
• feel every ounce of the sorrow.
In an action she calls ‘scouring’, Halifax ritualized her loss by visiting a rocky desert with photos and letters, and scoured her sorrow with hot tears on cold hard rock. The acts of feeling help us to transform a universal experience into new understanding and then, we can peacefully let go.
Halifax quotes the Zen nun, Rengetsu:
“The impermanence of this floating world
I feel over and over
It is hardest to be the one left behind.”
Being ‘left behind’ is at the core of grief. A severed connection is a wound. One of the best ways that wound will heal is to discover that threads remain: our memories.
The 4 Immeasurables
1. Immeasurable equanimity
2. Immeasurable love
3. Immeasurable compassion, and
4. Immeasurable joy
To awaken the natural and boundless capacity of one’s heart, a Buddhist seeks to embrace all living beings – whose number is immeasurable. The practice is like a wheel: meditating on the four immeasurables increases the capacity to act with love and compassion. Those actions deepen the tranquillity achieved in meditation.