Importance of Spiritual Benefactors

"Besides benefactors recalled from your personal life, it is important to learn to recognize a second kind of benefactor when it makes sense to you — deeply spiritual persons in your world, past or present, who function as spiritual benefactors for you. These are persons that you feel embody great goodness, a force of love and compassion that extends to all without partiality, including yourself. These may be people in your life whose fundamental goodness and way of being profoundly influenced you. If you have a mentor or teacher who inspires your spiritual practice, he or she would be included here. You could also include the teachers of your own spiritual teacher. Persons most profoundly holy to you, such as Shakyamuni Buddha or Jesus, would fall into this category. Try to identify ones you feel to be such sacred beings, true to your own maturing sense of that, without trying merely to conform to others' assumptions.

"You probably have not had personal acquaintance with all your spiritual benefactors. Some may be people who inspire you from afar, whether still living or not — holy beings, prophets, and spiritual activists such as the Dalai Lama, Theresa of Avila, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Martin Buber, Ramakrishna, St. Francis, Rumi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Dorothy Day, Ramana Maharshi. Such beings may truly inspire or guide you as you read their writings, hear their stories, or gaze upon a picture of them and feel their goodness coming through. Indeed, you can keep a picture of such a person near you for that purpose. One meditator I know keeps a picture of Mr. Rogers, the fatherly television personality and minister who helped generations of American children feel at home in this world.

"Because such spiritually weighty beings have communed so deeply with the very source of love and compassion, the very ground of goodness, we share in that ground when we open to their wish of love, their wish for the fullest well-being and happiness of ourselves and all others. It blesses our life. This is part of the reason that images of the Buddha, the Dalai Lama, and other revered spiritual teachers are so important to Tibetan Buddhists — such figures are sources of spiritual energy and inspiration for those who regularly commune with them in their love and compassion for all.

"Try to bring to mind one or more spiritual benefactors now, whether personally known to you or admired from a distance, and imagine their smiling presence before you. Relax and gently open to receive their wish for your deep well-being and happiness, their wish of love that radiates to you and many others. Commune with them in that way for a little while, and enjoy.

Entering into the Practice of Love

"Now you are ready for the meditation below. It can be done in daily practice for about twenty minutes per session. Pause after each demarcated subsection, to give you time to dwell on the instruction at hand. When first beginning, if you find it helpful, reread the instruction of one subsection a few times before meditating on it for a little while. Then move on to the next subsection and do similarly. When you have repeated the meditation a number of times, you will need to look at the written instructions much less. If you would like a CD for oral transmission of the meditations in this book, please consult the ordering information at the end of the book.

Meditation: Receiving the Healing, Transforming Power of Love
Part I: 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 radiance, like a soft shower of healing rays. Bathe your whole body and mind in that tender radiance, all the way down to your toes and fingertips. Bask in the loving energy of that wish. Trust it. You don't have to trust every aspect of all benefactors, just the wish of love that they radiate, the simple wish for your well-being and happiness.

"Receive the gentle, healing energy of that radiance. As other thoughts or feelings arise, let them be enveloped in this loving luminosity. No matter who you think you are, what you think you deserve, all such thoughts are irrelevant now — just accept the benefactors' wish of love for your deepest happiness. Trusting this wish more than any limiting thoughts of your self, receive it into your whole being.

"Let yourself rely upon this love, the goodness it comes from, and the goodness it meets in your heart. To rely upon this love more than on your own defensive reactions is to find profound refuge.

"Be at ease, open, and accepting, like a puppy lying in the morning sun, passively soaking up its rays. Absorb the soft, healing energy of 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 radiance of their love, mentally repeat the wish for yourself, using words like these: '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, just as your benefactors mean them for you. Like every one else in this world, you most deeply need and deserve happiness and well-being. Repeat the wish for yourself while accepting 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 into utter oneness with the radiance, dropping the visualization of benefactors, and releasing any attempt to hold onto any frame of reference. Deeply let be into 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."