In this talk, Maitridasa explores how we can develop positive emotions to benefit both ourselves and others in times of suffering. He draws on his personal experiences of how to use dukkha as a tool to increase our empathy and solidarity with others. When we feel fear, anxiety, sadness, or grief, we can turn our mind to our friends, and to all others who are experiencing the same or worse, at that very moment, so that our dukkha is transformed into compassion and a sense of solidarity. We can do this formally in our metta bhavana practice, and at any other time.
The current series of talks come under our theme ‘Dharma for Difficult Times’. We cannot control the current situation, but we do have a choice between a negative and a creative response. If we can see adversity from a Dharmic perspective, it could be an opportunity to take our practice – and our Sangha – to a new level.
Many people are becoming painfully aware that worldly life cannot deliver lasting happiness and safety. The Buddha pointed out that there is a deeper happiness to be found, above worldly circumstances, by fulfilling our spiritual potential, by growing towards a higher level of being. Having our worldly refuges so roughly taken away from us can be an opportunity to make our Going for Refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha far more wholehearted.
Questions for reflection and discussion:
Which strategies for emotional distancing can you recognise in yourself?
How could you contact other people’s suffering more fully without becoming overwhelmed?
Recorded at Sheffield Buddhist Centre on 07.04.20