Atisha's Heart Meditation

Atisha said: Train in joining, sending and taking together. Do this by riding the breath.
Atisha says: start being compassionate. And the method is, when you breathe in - listen carefully, it is one of the greatest methods - when you breathe in, think that you are breathing in all the miseries of all the people in the world. All the darkness, all the negativity, all the hell that exists anywhere, you are breathing it in. And let it be absorbed in your heart. You may have read or heard about the so-called positive thinkers of the West. They say just the opposite - they don't know what they are saying.

They say "When you breathe out, throw out all your misery and negativity. And when you breathe in, breathe in joy, positivity, happiness, cheerfulness." Atisha's method is just the opposite: when you breathe in, breathe in all the misery and suffering of all the beings of the world - past, present and future. And when you breathe out, breathe out all the joy that you have, all the blissfulness that you have, all the benediction that you have. Breathe out, pour yourself into existence. This is the method of compassion:drink in all the suffering and pour out all the blessings. And you will be surprised if you do it. The moment you take all the sufferings of the world inside you, they are no longer sufferings. The heart immediately transforms the energy. The heart is a transforming force: drink in misery, and it is transformed into blissfulness, thenpour it out.

Once you have learned that your heart can do this magic, this miracle, you will like to do it again and again. Try it. It is one of the most practical methods, simple, and it brings immediate results. Do it today, and see.



Atisha said: Begin the development of taking with yourself.

Atisha says: before you can do this with the whole existence, you will have to start first with yourself. This is one of the fundamental secrets of inner growth. You cannot do anything with others that you have not done in the first place with yourself. You can hurt others if you hurt yourself, you will be a pain in the neck to others if you are a pain in the neck to yourself, you can be a blessing to others only if you are a blessing to yourself. Whatsoever you can do with others, you must have done to yourself before, because that is the only thing that you can share. You can share only that which you have; you cannot share that which you don't have.

Atisha says: "Beginthe development of taking with yourself."

Rather than starting by taking the whole misery of the world and absorbing it in the heart, start with your own misery. Don't go into the deep sea so fast; learn swimming in shallow water. And if you immediately start taking the misery of the whole existence, it will remain simply an experiment in speculation. It won't be real, it can't be real. It will be just verbal. You can say to yourself "Yes, I am taking the misery of the whole world" - but what do you know of the misery of the whole world? You have not even experienced your own misery.

We go on avoiding our own misery. If you feel miserable, you put on the radio or the TV and you become engaged. You start reading the newspaper so that you can forget your misery, or you go to the movies, or you go to your woman or your man. You go to the club, you go shopping in the market, just somehow to keep yourself away from yourself, so that you need not see the wound, so that you need not look at how much it hurts within. People go on avoiding themselves. What do they know of misery? How can they think of the misery of the whole existence? First, you have to begin with your-self. If you are feeling miserable, let it become a meditation. Sit silently, close the doors. First feel the misery with as much intensity as possible. Feel the hurt. Somebody has insulted you: now, the best way to avoid the hurt is to go and insult him, so that you become occupied with him. That is not meditation.

If somebody has insulted you, feel thankful to him that he has given you an opportunity to feel a deep wound. He has opened a wound in you. The wound may have been created by many many insults that you have suffered in your whole life; he may not be the cause of all the suffering, but he has triggered a process.
Just lock your room, sit silently, with no anger for the person but with total awareness of the feeling that is arising in you - the hurt feeling that you have been rejected, that you have been insulted. And then you will be surprised that not only is this man there: all the men and all the women and all the people that have ever insulted you will start moving in your memory. You will start not only remember¬ing them, you will start reliving them. You will be going into a kind of primal.

Feel the hurt, feel the pain, don't avoid it. That's why in many therapies the patient is told not to take any drugs before the therapy begins, for the simple reason that drugs are a way to escape from your inner misery. They don't allow you to see your wounds, they repress them. They don't allow you to go into your suffering and unless you go into your suffering, you cannot be released from the imprisonment of it.

It is perfectly scientific to drop all drugs before going into a group - if possible even drugs like coffee, tea, smoking, because these are all ways to escape.

Have you watched? Whenever you feel nervous you immediately start smoking. It is a way to avoid nervousness; you become occupied with smoking. Really it is a regression. Smoking makes you again feel like a child - unworried, non-responsible - because smoking is nothing but a symbolic breast. The hot smoke going in simply takes you back to the days when you were feeding on the mother's breast and the warm milk was going in: the nipple has now become the cigarette. The cigarette is a symbolic nipple. Through regression you avoid the responsibilities and the pains of being adult. And that's what goes on through many many drugs. Modern man is drugged as never before, because modern man is living in great suffering. Without drugs it would be impossible to live in so much suffering. Those drugs create a barrier; they keep you drugged, they don't allow you enough sensitivity to know your pain.

The first thing to do is close your doors and stop any kind of occupation: looking at the TV, listening to the radio, reading a book. Stop all occupation, because that too is a subtle drug. Just be silent, utterly alone. Don't even pray, because that again is a drug, you are becoming occupied, you start talking to God, you start praying, you escape from yourself.

Atisha is saying: just be yourself. Whatsoever the pain of it and whatsoever the suffering of it, let it be so. First experience it in its total intensity.

It will be difficult, it will be heartrending: you may start crying like a child, you may start rolling on the ground in deep pain, your body may go through contortions. You may suddenly become aware that the pain is not only in theheart, it is all over the body - that it is aching all over, that it is painful all over, that your whole body is nothing but pain. If you can experience it - this is of tremendous importance  then start absorbing it. Don't throw it away. It is such a valuable energy, don't throw it away. Absorb it, drink it, accept it, welcome it, feel grateful to it.

And say to yourself: "This time I'm not going to avoid it, this time I'm not going to reject it, this time I'm not going to throw it away. This time I will drink it and receive it like a guest. This time I will digest it."

It may take a few days for you to be able to digest it, but the day it happens, you have stumbled upon a door which will take you really far, far away. A new journey has started in your life, you are moving into a new kind of being - because immediately, the moment you accept the pain with no rejection anywhere, its energy and its quality changes. It is no longer pain. In fact one is simply surprised, one cannot believe it, it is so incredible. One cannot believe that suffering can be transformed into ecstasy, that pain can become joy.