May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May we be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May we not be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering.
May we dwell in the great equanimity free from passion, aggression, and prejudice.
—The Four Limitless Ones from Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chödrön—
In honoring the 49 lives lost this past Sunday during the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, as well as the survivors, family members, friends, and the community-at-large, I offer the Four Limitless Ones chant and carry it with me throughout these days in my heart, my words, and my actions.
“To move from aggression to unconditional loving-kindness can seem like a daunting task. But we start with what’s familiar,” says Chödrön in Comfortable with Uncertainty. She offers a formal seven-step practice to awaken loving-kindness.
The first step in the practice involves starting with awakening loving kindness for yourself by reciting the first line from the Four Limitless Ones chant. From there, each step involves awakening loving-kindness for others starting with those who spontaneously come to mind, to friends or neighbors, to those individuals you feel neutral about, to those you dislike, and so on and so forth.
In practicing awakening loving-kindness you allow your heart to open to acceptance and understanding. Understanding can go a long way in bridging differences among people, in bringing communities together, and in promoting peace.