In the practice, one visualizes taking onto oneself the suffering of others on the in-breath, and on the out-breath giving happiness and success to all sentient beings. As such it is a training in altruism.
The function of the practice is to:
- reduce selfish attachment
- increase a sense of renunciation
- create positive karma by giving and helping
- develop and expand loving-kindness and bodhicitta
"Whether this meditation really helps others or not, it gives me peace of mind. Then I can be more effective, and the benefit is immense."
His Holiness offers a translation of the Eight Verses in his book The Path To Tranquility: Daily Meditations.
Practical aspects on this meditation
||This section possibly contains original research. (January 2013)|
Taking onto oneself the suffering of others and giving happiness and success to all Sentient beings seems a heavy task, especially for a beginner in the practice. It might be appropriate to start out with smaller issues, like working with oneself to increase one's own wellbeing, increasing harmony in the family, open one's own mind to communicate better with other people or just finding more peace in doing the necessary daily chores. This is an area where it might be easier to experience some success in order to be able to go on with taking on the unhappiness or conflicts among other people, even though the principal aim is to develop one's own selfless and empathic qualities more than or at least as much as creating a real difference for others. The principle of taking in the suffering or disharmony on the inbreath and spreading an antidote of joy, harmony or peace of mind (or whatever might be needed in the specific case) on the outbreath is the same as described above. It is also a good option to use a small pause after the inbreath to convert the suffering or disharmony to the positive antidote which is to be breathed out.
Taking on suffering does not really mean to burden oneself with the misery of the world, but rather to acknowledge the existence of it and accept the state of the art. This makes it possible to increase one's own peace of mind at the same time as taking suffering or disharmony in, so there is not so much contradiction as there might seem to be from the outstart.
In mental training as a part of Autogenic Training, it is recommended to concentrate on the same issue for one week and not mix too many different problems or issues. This should be adapted to the difficulty and extent of the task set, which means that getting oneself to achieve a small goal might be solved in one session, whereas a longstanding conflict in a workplace might need a week or two, and happiness for all sentient beings may well require an unknown number of lifetimes.
This practice is summarized in seven points, which are attributed to the great Indian Buddhist teacher Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana, born in 982 CE. They were first written down by Kadampa master Langri Tangpa (1054–1123). The practice became more widely known when Geshe Chekawa Yeshe Dorje (1101–1175) summarized the points in his Seven Points of Training the Mind. This list of mind training (lojong) aphorisms or 'slogans' compiled by Chekawa is often referred to as the Atisha Slogans.
- Asoka Selvarajah. The Tibetan Art Of Tonglen. Mystic Visions. Retrieved 2010-10-21.
- Tonglen - Taking and Giving
- TONGLEN - 'Sending and Taking'
- http://www.shambhala.org/teachers/pema/tonglen1.php "The Practice of Tonglen" by Pema Chodron
- Tonglen Meditation: Increasing Compassion For All Beings (Including Self)
- Tonglen Meditation (cached)
- McTaggart, Lynne: The Field
- Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness
- Learn to Train Your Mind
- Kamalashila (1996). Meditation: The Buddhist Art of Tranquility and Insight. Birmingham: Windhorse Publications. ISBN 1-899579-05-2.
- Trungpa, Chogyam. Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness. Shambhala Classics. ISBN 1-59030-051-3
- H.H. The Dalai Lama. The Path To Tranquility: Daily Meditations. Viking Adult, 1999. ISBN 0-670-88759-5.
- Chödrön, Pema. Tonglen: The Path of Transformation. Vajradhatu Publications, 2000.
- Chödrön, Pema. Comfortable With Uncertainty. Shambhala Publications, 2003. ISBN 1-59030-078-5.
- Chödrön, Pema. Good Medicine: How to Turn Pain into Compassion With Tonglen Meditation. Sounds True, Inc, 2001. ISBN 1-56455-846-0.
- The Heart-Practice of Tonglen
- The Practice of Tonglen by Pema Chodron
- Pema teaches Tonglen in these videos.
- The Tonglen and Mind Training Site
- Tonglen - Quotes Sogyal Rinpoche's Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
- The Thirty Seven Practices of the Bodhisattva by Ngulchu Gyalsas Thogmed Zangpo