Friends of Godwin Samararatne

Learn to be your best friend and also to be a friend of others. Learn to forgive yourself and others and then heal any wounds that you are carrying.

Non-human Beings also Like You

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Another interesting benefit is that non-human beings also like you. What are these non-human beings? One can interpret this in different ways, but perhaps we can include animals, perhaps we can include plants and trees. We can include non-human beings who may be here in this world but which we cannot see. I think it is a fact that animals can really feel your loving-kindness and they can respond in the same way. I was saying the other day that we have monks in Sri Lanka who meditate in deep forests where there are wild animals, where there are animals who can harm you, but it is interesting how the monks get on with these animals. I know in one place the chief monk talks to these wild animals and they seem to obey the requests or orders of the monks. So I think animals are disturbed when you have fear, but when you have loving-kindness, when you are friendly towards them, I think they can feel that.

They have done some research which shows that even plants can feel your emotions, they can react to your emotions. So here again, I think loving-kindness may be able to affect them in some ways.

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Other People Like You

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Another benefit of loving-kindness meditation is that other human beings like you. Why do human beings like you? Because you are friendly towards them, so naturally when you are friendly to others they are friendly towards you. If you are not friendly to others they will not be friendly to you. So it is a very simple point that when you are friendly to others, others will respond in the same way. I think this is very important because we have a lot of problems and difficulties in relationships due to the way we are relating to other people. So if we can be friendly to ourselves and friendly to others this can generate a lot of joy, a lot of happiness.

Sleep and Wake up Peacefully

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The first benefit of loving-kindness is that you can sleep peacefully. There is a difference between sleeping peacefully and sleeping well. This is related to the second benefit, which is that you wake up peacefully, and that is related to the third benefit where it is said you don’t have any nightmares, any unpleasant dreams.

What are these unpleasant dreams we have, these nightmares? I would suggest that they are related to the emotions we are repressing, perhaps related to the wounds that we are holding onto. So with loving-kindness you heal these wounds, then you don’t have these nightmares or unpleasant dreams, and then you can sleep peacefully and wake up peacefully.

In Sri Lanka, sometimes I work with people who suffer from insomnia, and the way I try to help them is by the practice of this simple method of loving-kindness before they go to sleep. It has been interesting for me to see that it works most of the time.

Guided Loving-Kindness Meditation

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We’ll now end with meditation on loving-kindness.

Please feel the area of your heart. Please spend some time just feeling that area.

Can you feel that your heart is opening up like a flower, feeling gentleness, softness and tenderness?

Can you feel that you are your best friend, can you really feel it in the area of your heart and every part of your body?

As your best friend, can you really forgive yourself for whatever mistakes you have made in the past? If you do not have to forgive yourself, just feel happy that you are not carrying any wound.

As your best friend, can you forgive others for whatever mistakes they have done, letting go of any hatred or ill-will you are carrying in relation to them?

May you all be well. May you all be happy. May you all be peaceful. May all beings be well. May all beings be happy. May all beings be peaceful.be well. May all beings be happy. May all beings be peaceful.

The Buddha’s Medicine

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When you practise in everyday life you can really see the result, you can see that the medicine the Buddha has given us really heals, it really works. Then you have more and more faith, more and more confidence in the medicine. And you have more and more confidence in yourself. Then you really feel grateful for the Buddha who discovered this medicine, and you feel happy that you have discovered it and that you are using it and you are feeling the result.

And what is beautiful about the Buddha’s medicine is that it can be applied in any situation in life. It can be applied when you are sick. It can be applied when you encounter death in any way. It can be applied when we are hurt, frustrated, disappointed. It can be applied when we have very serious problems, very serious conflicts.

The only thing is that one has to be very clear about the practice. Are you really making a commitment to your practice? Have you really made a commitment to take the medicine? I think it is also important that while you are taking the medicine you should also encourage others to take the medicine by just sharing with them – this is what I am doing. Please see for yourselves.

Feeling Grateful

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A very important quality in relation to loving-kindness is this quality of feeling grateful. Before coming here I spent some time in India and while I was in the place where the Buddha became enlightened I was reflecting on what the Buddha did after his enlightenment. According to the tradition, after he became enlightened he spent 7 days just looking at the tree which gave him shelter. Just reflect on this: Buddha spending 7 days showing his gratitude for a tree. So it shows what a very important quality feeling grateful is.

Do we feel grateful for things? Do we feel grateful for other people? Do you feel grateful that you have discovered the Dhamma, that you have a group of spiritual friends? Do we ever make an effort to develop this quality of feeling grateful? Do we ever feel grateful that we can see? There are people who cannot see. Do you feel grateful that you can hear? There are some people who cannot hear. Do you feel grateful that you are healthy and that you can practise meditation without any problem?

So these are small things, little things, which we take for granted. You should visit very poor countries like India and Sri Lanka and then you might realise that you should feel grateful for some of the things you enjoy. But do we ever think about this? In those countries there are people without food. So shouldn’t we feel grateful when we have food to eat?

There is another aspect of feeling grateful: when we have unpleasant experiences we should also feel grateful for them because we can learn from them, they become our teachers.

Such a Difference

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When we develop more and more friendliness to others, more and more friendliness to ourselves, and more and more forgiveness to others and ourselves, then we learn to be kind to others, we learn to have loving-kindness in our relationships with others.

There are so many human beings who are suffering unnecessarily. So when you see human beings suffering you should try to relate to them with gentleness, with kindness, sometimes smiling with them, sometimes doing a kind act which can make such a difference to them and you. And if you can really open up to loving-kindness you’ll see so many opportunities in life, in society, where you can act in such a way, and this can generate lots of happiness for you and happiness for others.

Bound to Make Mistakes

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I would like to mention two aspects of loving-kindness: one is forgiveness and the other is feeling grateful.

In everyday life we need to forgive ourselves and to forgive others. If we cannot forgive ourselves and forgive others then what happens is that we can be holding on to certain experiences, certain wounds that have been created, and this can create a lot of suffering for ourselves in everyday life.

As we are human we are bound to make mistakes. So when you make mistakes, there is no need to suffer and no need to feel guilty and beat yourself for having made mistakes; rather learn to forgive yourself and learn from these mistakes. And other human beings, as they are also human, as they are also imperfect, they are also bound to make mistakes. So if you cannot forgive other people what happens is that you are holding onto hatred and ill-will, which is very unwholesome for you.

To Open Our Hearts

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A very important meditation, especially when practised in everyday life, is meditation on loving-kindness. So one aspect of loving-kindness is learning to be your own best friend. If you can really make that connection with yourself you’ll never do things which are unskilful for you, unwholesome for you, which create your own suffering and suffering for others. And it is only when you are friendly to yourself that you can really be friendly to others. First we have to open our hearts to ourselves, then we can open our hearts to others.

A Simple Life

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A challenge you have in everyday life is materialism, consumerism. When you live in a rich country, you cannot separate, you don’t know, it’s not clear, what you really need and what is simply your greed. The society you live in can create desires in you, needs in you, which are not really necessary.

A very important aspect of meditation in everyday life is learning to lead a simple life. It is something very beautiful to be simple, learning to be simple in our way of living. So when there is an urge or when there is a need to buy things, when you see the things you should ask: Now is this really necessary for me? Why do I really need this? Is it because other people are wearing this or other people are using that or do I really need it? So you need to really ask that question when living in a consumer society.

Then you’ll realise your joy, your happiness, your lightness come not from external things, not from goods, not from what you possess, not from what you buy, but from something that comes from within yourself. This is the beauty of meditation. The need for external things drops away because you have become independent of external things. They drop away. And as I said, joy and lightness come from within yourself.