"Meditation: Receiving the Healing, Liberating Power of Love" by John Makransky
1 March 2010
Excerpted from “Teaching Spiritual Practice: One Contemporary Buddhist Approach” (.pdf) by John Makransky
This meditation begins by recalling your benefactors. Your benefactors are those who have held you in a wish of love, the simple wish for you to have happiness and wellbeing. Those who hold you in that wish are often the ones you especially like to be near. So one way to identify your benefactors is to recall people that you liked very much to be near at any point in your life. You might recall a dear relative, a friend of your parents that you adored being with, a favorite teacher or professor, a camp counselor or coach; you might recall a friendly stranger you encountered for even a moment in the store or at the park. Benefactors are people whom you enjoy bringing to mind, because their wish for your happiness, their simple wish of love, makes it feel so good to be in their presence.
In addition, also try bringing to mind a few spiritual figures as your benefactors, people who embody for you a stable and impartial love that seems to include everyone in its scope. Spiritual benefactors are those who have inspired and blessed you, through their words, writings or the quality of their presence to you. You might recall a mentor who has been a key touchstone in your spiritual life. You might also recall people who have inspired you from afar, like Shakyamuni Buddha, Jesus, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, or Martin Luther King.
As you follow the meditation instructions below, pause after each demarcated subsection (marked with a dashed line), to give yourself time to dwell on the instruction at hand.
Part 1: Receiving Love
Sit in a relaxed way with back comfortably straight, on cushion or chair, eyes open, gazing slightly downward. Having identified both kinds of benefactors, ones from ordinary life and spiritual benefactors from near or far, bring one or more of each type to mind and imagine their smiling faces before you. Envision them sending you the wish of love, the wish for your deepest well-being, happiness, and joy.
Sensing these wonderful people before you, gently open to their wish of love. Imagine their wish as a gentle energy, a soft radiance, like a tender shower of healing rays. Bathe your whole body and mind in that tender radiance, all the way down to your toes and fingertips—communing with your benefactors in their wish of love for you.
Bask in the gentle, healing energy of that radiance. As other thoughts or feelings arise, let them be enveloped in that loving luminosity. No matter who you think you are, or what you think you deserve, all such thoughts are irrelevant now—just accept the benefactors’ wish for your deepest happiness. Trusting this wish more than any limiting thoughts of yourself, receive it into your whole being.
Be at ease, open, and accepting, like a puppy lying in the morning sun, passively soaking up its rays. Communing with your benefactors in this way, absorb the soft, healing energy of their love into every cell of your body, every corner of your mind. Bathe in this, heal in this, rest in this.
After a little while, join your benefactors in their wish for you. While receiving the energy of their love, mentally repeat the wish for yourself, like this: “May this one have deepest well-being, happiness, and joy.” Affirm the words repeatedly in your mind. Try to mean them as you say them, like your benefactors mean them for you, acknowledging the basic goodness of your being that always deserves such love. Repeat the wish for yourself while receiving your benefactors’ love even more deeply into body and mind, communing with them through its radiance.
Part 2: Letting Go and Merging into Oneness with the Radiance
Finally, let go of yourself and merge into utter oneness with the radiance, dropping the visualization of benefactors and releasing any attempt to hold onto any sense of separation or any frame of reference. Let everything be just as it is within that gentle, luminous wholeness, beyond separation of self and others. Enjoy just being thus for a little while, at ease, at rest, complete.
Good work! You have completed the meditation.
This practice of rediscovering benefactors who have held you in their love, communing with them, and merging into oneness with them in the ground of such love provides the entryway into future meditation practices (described in this article). How so? When we feel alone, isolated, cut off and unloved, we cling tightly to our ego-centered thoughts of self and other for protection, to make our thought-made sense of self feel real and unassailable. When we feel loved just as we are, we sense that we don’t have to make ourselves more real, more acceptable. We feel safe enough to let our minds relax into their underlying wisdom beyond self-grasping—to be given over to the mystery of our deepest awareness that is already endowed with capacities of impartial love and compassion. From there, we can let our innate capacity of love extend naturally to others in wider and wider circles of communion, in meditation sessions and then throughout our day. The love and wisdom of those practices empowers our minds to become newly conscious of layers of suffering we have repressed, layers that we share with all others, and of our shared capacity for deep inner freedom.
This becomes a bridge of empathy and communion with others in compassion and wisdom.
This article is excerpted from “Teaching Spiritual Practice: One Contemporary Buddhist Approach" (.pdf).
John Makransky is a professor of Buddhism and Comparative Theology at Boston College and a spiritual teacher within the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the guiding meditation teacher of the Foundation for Active Compassion. His books include Awakening Through Love: Unveiling Your Deepest Goodness and Buddhahood Embodied: Sources of Controversy in India and Tibet.