Bodhicitta is tremendously important for our own and others' well-being, and we must never give it up. If we reflect on bodhicitta at times of suffering, our mental distress will decrease, and by generating compassion, our physical suffering will be transformed and become meaningful on the path to awakening.
Chinese Buddhism contains several meditations to cultivate love and compassion. One is meditation on the four immeasurables. Another is the 'seven-round compassion meditation,' which has its source in Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosabhasya. This meditation consists of seven rounds, each round having seven steps in which we contemplate our relationship with seven groups of people.
(1) Recall the kindness of your elders in this life, remembering each person who has taken care of you, taught you, guided you, protected you, and served as a good role model. Think, "My elders have done so much for me. Since they have selflessly helped me, it would seem natural that I try to repay their kindness. However, instead of doing that, I argue with them and cause them worry. I don't listen to their suggestions and don't appreciate all they have done for me. I confess and regret this." Feel this in your heart. Now dedicate all your merit to your elders for the cessation of their suffering and attainment of buddhahood. Then think about your elders in past lives and do the same.
(2) Recall your peers — siblings, friends, and colleagues — and consider that they have kept you company, befriended you, and assisted you when you needed help. Recall that instead of caring about them in return, you have criticized and blamed them, called them names, been inconsiderate or jealous of their successes. Confess this, purify, and dedicate your merit to them. Contemplate your peers in previous lives and think in the same way.
(3) Meditate in the same way regarding your juniors (children, students, employees), (4) enemies of your elders (people who have hurt, betrayed, or taken advantage of your elders), (5) your own enemies, (6) enemies of your juniors, and (7) neutral people who have neither helped nor harmed you. Contemplate their kindness. Then recall that instead of repaying their kindness, you sometimes had malice and harmed them. Confess and purify, and dedicate your merit to them so that they may be happy and free from duhkha, take refuge in the Three Jewels, and become awakened. Do the same for all those with whom you have had that relationship in previous lives.
Contemplating the seven steps in this way constitutes one round. The second round is thinking in the same way toward these various groups, beginning with neutral people and going in the reverse order, ending with your elders. The third round is going through the seven steps again in forward order. The meditation is performed, back and forth, in this way for seven rounds.
At the conclusion, empty your mind of all thoughts, ideas, graspings, and keep pure awareness. Contemplate emptiness.
Those who practice this compassion contemplation for some months will definitely see a change in their lives and relationships with sentient beings.— Thubten Chodron, His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Buddhism