Fundamental teachings
as an antidote to attachment to the pleasure of peace

(from In Search of the Stainless Ambrosia, Jewel Ornament of Liberation, Jewel Treasury of Advice and Transformation of Suffering)
by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche

When one has great loving-kindness towards all sentient beings, there are limitless beneficial effects, for such kindness represents an offering to all the Buddhas. All other beings are then drawn to us and wish to protect us. This will cause peace and happiness for oneself, one will benefit one's entire environment. One will not suffer harm from weapons and poisons, one's wishes will be fulfilled without effort, and one will be reborn in higher realms.

Practicing loving-kindness, one is not attached to one's own peace and happiness, but rather has concern only for others. Loving-kindness is the state of mind in which one wishes that all sentient beings may have happiness and the causes of happiness. The object of one's goal is the well-being of all without exception. In this connection, the Guddha told a story about how loving-kindness could reverse even very negative karma: In the ancient city of Varanasi, King Champetop (the power of love) practiced loving-kindness for all sentient beings. At this time, a spirit named Vaisravana and his retinue arrived at Varanasi, but no one welcomed him with the traditional torma (ceremonial food and drink) offering. Consequently, he grew very angry and manifested this anger in the form of a widespread plague which killed thousands. Greatly saddened by the suffering of his people, King Champetop and his court meditated on loving-kindness. Through the power of these virtues, the plague was pacified. One day when the King was walking through a garden, he encountered Vaisravana and his followers disguised as Brahmins. One of the group acting as a spokesman asked for food, explaining that they had not eaten for many days. The King ordered his attendants to bring fresh food, but the spokesman interjected, saying that the group could only eat raw flesh. King Champetop grew thoughtful, pondering whether it was appropriate to take the lives of other beings for one's own consumption. He resolved the question by asking the kingdom's butchers to open his own veins and slice his flesh as an offering to the Brahmins. When the butchers refused to cut the flesh and draw the blood of their king, the king did the job himself and presented the offering to the Brahmins. When they were satisfied by this sacrifice, the King gave a teaching on the preciousness of all life and the necessity of abstaining from harming others. He also initiated Vaisravana into the five principles of discipline, namely: not killing any sentient being, not engaging in false speech, not stealing that which belongs to another, not engaging in sexual misconduct, and not drinking alcoholic beverages. He concluded the teaching with the prayer for sharing merit, and then addressed his disciples thus, "King Champetop's every action is directed towards helping all sentient beings. By following his example of loving-kindness and abiding by the five principles of discipline, you may also attain the state of Enlightenment." Lord Buddha concluded the story by revealing to the gathering that he was King Champetop in a previous life and that his five ascetic disciples were Vaisravana and his followers in their previous lives.

Before practicing loving-kindness to all sentient beings, we must first reflect on the kindness offered to us by our mothers over many years. When we were born, we were like a small insect, unable to do anything. Thereafter, our mother gave us food and drink, sacrificed to give us clothes and shelter, and otherwise tried to please us. Even when she lacked resources she tried to give us what we needed. All that she used for her child she acquired through hardship. Our mother also protected us from fire, water, falls and all other dangers. she worried about our health and well-being. We knew nothing when we were born, but our mother taught us how to talk, rejoiced over even our first faltering words and steps, and oversaw our education, helping to make us the best among all others. If a friend helps us a little, or offers us a cup of tea, we feel much gratitude. Think, then, how much more gratitude one should feel for one's mother who has done so much for us. Then we must meditate on the fact that we have been reborn in innumerable lifetimes. So all sentient beings have been our mothers at one time or another. Therefore, we must realize that all beings have been kind to us, and we must repay this by practicing loving-kindness and wishing that all may have happiness and the cause of happiness. We extend the kindness we feel for our mother to our other relatives, then to our friends, then to our countrymen and finally to all beings universally, even to those whom we regard as enemies. Lord Jigten Sumgon said: If you cannot think kindly of your mother, think of a dear friend and extend outward from there.

Compassion is wishing that all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. If your mother or a close friend is experiencing a crisis, you are responsible for helping. Even if your mother is crazy, you must try to help, so in the same way you must help all sentient beings deluded by the three poisons, clarifying their view if possible. When one has great compassion towards all, one will achieve the Buddha's qualities, as the Buddha himself explained in this story: In the city of Varansi in India there was born a child whose father, a sea captain, died during one of his ocean journeys in search of precious gems. His mother never told him the truth of his father's profession, fearing that he, too, would wish to go to sea and might be drowned there. The child was very respectful to his mother. but one day he learned the truth, and announced to his mother that he would go to sea. Holding him by the feet, the mother tearfully pleaded with the young man not to leave her. But he only became angry, kicked her in the head and left. His mother prayed that he would not suffer the negative karma of having harmed her. During one sea journey, the son's ship was destroyed by crocodiles, but he managed to float to day land where he was greeted by beautiful goddesses who offered him food, drink, rich garments and wealth. Thereafter, wherever he wandered he met yet more goddesses who offered him ever more lavish hospitality. Finally, he arrived at the "City of Iron", but as he entered, the city gates immediately locked behind him. He passed through several further doors, and at the last he beheld the terrifying spectacle of a huge being with a wheel of iron turning on the crown of his head. This creature was being nourished by the pus that oozed from his head. Za-o Bumo (for that was the man's name) asked the cause of the great being's obvious misery. The creature answered, "It is because I harmed by mother." Immediately, Za-o Bumo realized that fate had brought him to the City of Iron for he, too had harmed his mother by kicking her.

From the sky, a voice announced, "Liberate him who is tied, and tie him who is not tied". Instantly, the being with the wheel of iron was liberated while Za-o Bumo now suffered the horrific pain of the iron wheel turning on the crown of his own head. He asked, "How long will this wheel turn on my head?" The voice in the sky replied that the wheel would remain fixed to his head for sixty thousand years. Za-o Bumo then asked whether any other beings would suffer the same fate. The answer was that whoever had harmed his mother would suffer similarly. 'through his sufferings, Za-o Bumo acquired great compassion for other sentient beings. He proclaimed, "I will assume the suffering of this turning wheel for all those who share this karma." Immediately, Za-o Bumo was freed as the wheel of iron arose in the air the distance of a tala (palm) tree. He died and was reborn in the Tushita heaven. Then Lord Buddha revealed that he was Za-o Bumo in a previous life. By giving his earnings to his mother (which he had done before finding out her deceit), he found enjoyment. By kicking his mother he experienced suffering. But by cultivating compassion, he had been freed of suffering. The lifetime practice of compassion is a skillful means of practice for Bodhisattvas.

Loving-kindness and compassion are the essence of the Buddha's wisdom, and the nectar which transforms everything into the medicine that cures the disease of the mind. They are the light of wisdom which dispels the darkness of ignorance.

Uninterrupted compassion is like a river.
It doesn't tire or become discouraged.
It is equal to the limits of samsara.
This is my heart's advice.
(from the Jewel Treasury of Advice)