Stone park bench inscribed with 'Compassion'

Love and Compassion in AA Action

Mike Mather

Alchies Love To Take

In short, may I directly and indirectly
offer help and happiness to all my mothers
and secretly take upon myself
all their harm and suffering

In this verse, Langri Tangpa eloquently explains the profound practice of taking and giving. Through this practice, we have the opportunity to deepen our love and compassion, cultivating a very special Bodhichitta within us. This guides us on the path to engaging successfully in the six perfections, which ultimately leads to the attainment of Buddhahood.

Bodhisattva Langri Tangpa illustration with mountains in the background

Courtesy NKT-IKBU

We Are Not Saints

It is important to note that while this practice can involve the imagination, it is not limited to the realm of the mind. Physical acts of taking and giving can also be performed, although the true essence lies in training and transforming our minds.

Let us remember that our goal is not to become saints, but to develop and nurture our capacity for compassion. By diligently practising this meditation on taking and giving, we will gradually build a reservoir of deep compassion within our minds. And as we do so, the potential benefits extend to all living beings, creating a ripple effect of positive transformation.

Homeless bearded man holding sign. 'Seeking Human Kindness'

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

People Pleasers Beware

The 12th step of Alcoholics Anonymous encourages us to extend our help to others, and the practice of taking and giving meditation aligns perfectly with this mindset. For those of us who have a tendency to be people pleasers, prayer, and meditation for others often yield more fruitful outcomes than solely relying on our own problem-solving abilities. However, it is important to acknowledge that there are times when taking action based on our ideas is also necessary.

Taking on the suffering of others through compassionate intentions and offering acts of love and kindness are incredibly beneficial for all parties involved. This practice not only fosters personal growth but also contributes to the collective well-being of our interdependent world.

For further reference, see also the Tonglen* (Black and White) meditation

*with Pema Chodron

The cause of happiness comes rarely,
And many are the seeds of suffering!
But if I have no pain, I’ll never long for freedom;
Therefore, O my mind, be steadfast!

By: Shantideva. Source: The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicaryavatara)*.

N.B Langri Tangpa's advice was taken from “The New Eight Steps To Happiness” by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche.

About the Author Mike Mather

Mike was born in 1963 which technically makes him one of the youngest of the Baby Boomers. An Australian with Indigenous and European heritage, he has been an avid and required student of Buddhism and alcoholism since 2008.

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