A student asks:
Can we practise Love and Compassion to inanimate objects such as mountains? Could this relate to the feeling of ‘aliveness’ and being connected to the elements?
Lama Shenpen responds?
I don’t really believe in practising love and compassion connecting to inanimate objects such as mountains – for me love and compassion is what happens between beings – not inanimate objects. Yet we do talk about communion with nature and the landscape don’t we? We talk of caring for the world around us and treating it with gentleness and respect – which feels a bit like love and compassion.
Maybe that is because we intuit that somehow it is not all somehow ‘out there’ and separate from our being, it is a shared interface with other beings who also experience that mountain or object in their own way – like the glass of water in the example given for the chittamatrian* view: To us it’s a glass of water, to a fish a home, to a hungry ghost pus, to a hell being molten metal and to the god it is nectar.
The mountain or inanimate object is the interface between ourselves and other beings seen and not seen – we can open out to it and let it inspire us – and in a way communicate something to us like a message from Totality – the Universe, which has a similar feeling to love doesn’t it?
So maybe love for all beings includes their worlds which means what we would ordinarily call inanimate things but now we are talking of a world in which there is only beings – nothing is truly inanimate. It seems though that we don’t think of inanimate things as suffering do we? So wishing them happy might not mean anything – not wishing them free from suffering or that their heart’s Awaken and they follow the path to Awakening…in other words the Four Apramanas wouldn’t apply to things would they?
Lama Shenpen Hookham
* The Chittamatra/The Chittamatra View is a Mahayana school/doctrine that states that all things/phenomena are fundamentally ‘mind’. Lama has taught on this here as part of the Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness which is also a book edited by Lama Shenpen.
Love and Compassion is the theme for Lama Shenpen’s teachings this year. Catch up on the broadcast teachings so far on our YouTube channel Here. Find out about all Lama Shenpen’s upcoming online teaching events and retreats and how to join in HERE. If you would like to make an offering in appreciation of Lama Shenpen’s teachings please do so HERE.
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