Ultimate stages of the path: Wishing love

This meditation is exactly the same as the meditation on great compassion, except this time we develop great love (or wishing love).  There are three types of love, affectionate love, cherishing love and wishing love.  Affectionate love is when you feel warm in your heart, affectionate towards others and you are naturally delighted to see or think about someone.  I think of this as “Grandma love”, it is the joy my Grandma feels everytime she sees one of us.  Or it is also 4 year old love, the love and delight our kids feel as they come running towards us for a hug when we come home from work.  Cherishing love, as explained before, is a love that considers the happiness of others to be something important, or precious, to us.  We value the happiness of others as important to us, something worth working for and prioritizing in our life.  I think of this as a parent’s love.  The happiness of my kids is very important to me and I make my decisions based on what is best for my whole family, even if that sometimes means at the expense of my own narrow interests.  Wishing love is beyond these.  Wishing love sees that others lack true happiness and commits itself to doing whatever it takes to bestow upon others true happiness.  Great compassion is “great” because it (1) concerns all living beings and (2) concerns all three types of suffering (manifest, changing and pervasive).  In the same way, (great) wishing love is concerned for all living beings and its wish is that all beings experience the eternal, perfected happiness of full enlightenment, not merely worldly happiness.  I think of this as a qualified Spiritual Guide’s love.  Only a qualified spiritual guide loves all beings without exception and wishes for them the pure and everlasting happiness of enlightenment.  Even our parents do not wish this for us, and if we have Dharma parents they may wish this for us but not for all living beings.

Just as great compassion is an essential foundation of our bodhichitta, so too is wishing love.  These two, one wishing to free all beings from all suffering the other wishing to bestow upon all beings all happiness, are two aspects of the bodhisattva’s basic wish for others.  This two-sided wish is the substantial cause of our bodhichitta.  In science, we divide causes into necessary and sufficient.  In the Dharma, we divide causes into substantial and circumstantial.  The substantial cause is the thing that transforms into the next thing, like an acorn into an oak tree.  The circumstantial causes are what facilitate that transformation.  In the context of generating bodhichitta, great compassion and wishing love are the substantial cause of our bodhichitta and the practice of taking and giving (and a few extra contemplations) are the circumstantial causes which transform our principal bodhisattva wish into a qualified bodhichitta.  Engaging in the meditation on wishing love understanding the essential role it plays in our generating bodhichitta is the perfection of wishing love.  The ultimate perfection of wishing love is engaging in the perfection of wishing love conjoined with an understanding of emptiness.

We generate wishing love as follows:  first we generating cherishing love in the ways described before, then we consider how living beings do not experience a true, pure, everlasting, uncontaminated happiness.  This is actually easier to understand than most people realize.  The worldly happiness we normally experience, such as that derived from eating ice cream or getting a good job, is happiness but it is not true, pure, everlasting, uncontaminated happiness.  It is not true happiness because it is actually what we call “changing suffering,” meaning it is really just the temporary reduction of our suffering of a lack of something, like the relief we feel after drinking water when we are really thirsty.  A true cause of happiness would be something where the more we have of the cause, the more it produces its intended effect, namely happiness.  Some water brings us initial relief, but if we keep drinking water more and more, eventually doing so will change into suffering.  The same is true for all forms of worldly happiness, such as food, sex, intoxicants, etc.  It is not pure because it concerns a happiness of this life alone, whereas pure happiness looks to our happiness in all our future lives.  It is not everlasting because it fluctuates and eventually dissipates, not remaining unchangingly perfect for eternity.  And it is not uncontaminated happiness because we grasp at it as a happiness that exists from its own side, somehow separate from us and existing independently of our mind.  Wishing love wishes that all beings could experience true, pure, everlasting, uncontaminated happiness.  Seeing that they don’t, we naturally generate the wish that they did.   Wishing love even goes one step further than this by wishing that beings enjoy the bliss of full enlightenment.  The bliss of full enlightenment is an inner peace so qualified, it is blissful.  But it is combined with the deep inner satisfaction that comes with being a vehicle for the eventual ripening and liberating of all living beings, “the main gateway for those seeking liberation.” This is wishing love.

Unobservable wishing love, like unobservable great compassion, is wishing love combined with an understanding that living beings are mere karmic appearances of our mind, they are the beings of our dream, they are waves on the ocean of our mind, they are our karmically created children.  As before, the karmic ripples of our past actions coalesce together into the forms of the beings of this world chasing after contaminated, worldly happiness and lacking the eternal bliss of full enlightenment.  Why are they like this?  Because we have karmically constructed them in this way.  Our contaminated, virtuous actions, such as giving flowers to somebody on their birthday, create the causes for others to engage in similar virtuous actions towards us in the future.  When they do so, they in turn create the causes for their own happiness and they create the tendencies to engage in similar actions again (thus setting the stage for even more happiness later).  Thus, from an ultimate point of view, just as we are responsible for all the suffering of all the empty beings of our dream, so too we are responsible for all of their worldly happiness.  This is good, but there is even better – the bliss of full enlightenment.  There is nothing wrong with wishing for people to be happy in this world, we just need to not stop there.  We need to karmically reconstruct the beings of our dream to be ones experiencing the eternal bliss of full enlightenment.  Wishing this is unobservable wishing love and the object of our meditation.

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