How does rejoicing in the good qualities of others make those qualities arise in us?

A student asks:

How does the practice of mudita actually work – that by contemplating the good qualities of others, these qualities ripen in us? Is the practice of mudita referring to Guru Yoga*?

Lama Shenpen replies:

Mudita is more like Buddha smrti – mindfulness of the qualities of the Buddha – which is very close to Guru Yoga but not explicitly so – not in the sense that they are the same thing – at least not necessarily so.  Nonetheless Buddha smrti leads to Guru Yoga and I think that too often Guru Yoga is talked about without reference to mudita and Buddha smrti – so that it starts to sound as if Guru Yoga is about some kind of personality cult.

It’s a good question how mudita works and how contemplating the good qualities of others makes them arise in us.

It is the same principle as pranidhanas  – you think of qualities that you admire and your heart responds and you find yourself wishing to be like that oneself – as you orientate yourself towards that wish those qualities are already being awakened within you.

It’s the direction in which your being is starting to bend, to tend towards – which affects choices you make, the preferences you have, what you want to avoid – all your experience and karmic connections are all tending in that direction.

You meet more people like that, they befriend you and you them.  We are always being influenced by those around us aren’t we?  We start to talk and be like those whom we admire. It even happens with pet-owners doesn’t it?


*Guru yoga – The practice of opening out to the essence and union of all the Buddhas in the form of a guru or lineage of gurus so that the adhishtana of their presence unites their heart and mind with your own.

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