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Williamsburg Buddhist Meditation Group Message Board › The Four Protective Meditations

The Four Protective Meditations

Eva B.
Williamsburg, VA
Post #: 11
Difficulties will arise during meditation, taking the form of boredom, pain, desire, restlessness, distress. We can develop skills to deal with negative mind-states; the four protective meditations are one such family of skills. They guard the mind against arising in negativity, planting seeds in the mind for later use.

Loving-Kindness is an open-hearted acceptance and feeling of good will towards all sentient beings. The traditional formula is “may all beings be well and happy.” This protective meditation spreads loving kindness out into the universe in increasing circles, beginning with ourselves, then towards all beings in the room, in the locality, in the country, and through to all beings on the planet and then out into the greater universe.

Remember to start with loving-kindness toward yourself. You cannot love anyone else in depth unless you love yourself. Once you do manage to arouse genuine loving-kindness toward yourself, you will be unable to withhold it from others. It will spontaneously overflow.

Wishing that all beings be well and happy does not convey approval or liking. To be effective, loving-kindness must be universal. We learn to love everyone without discrimination between the near and far, the liked and disliked, the good and evil. The liberating effect comes from the boundlessness or the meditation.

The second protective meditation is contemplation of the Buddha, a devotional and inspirational practice. The Buddha’s attributes include:

1. Araham - Perfected One, Arahant
2. Sammasambuddho - Perfectly Enlightened by His Own Effort
3. Vijjacaranasampanno - Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct
4. Sugato - The Fortunate One
5. Lokavidu - Knower of the Worlds
6. Anuttaro Purisadammasarathi - Unsurpassed Trainer of the Untrained
7. Sattha Devamanussanam - The Teacher of Gods and Humans
8. Buddho - Awake
9. Bhagava - The Blessed One

Using creative imagination, visualize what a Buddha would be like. Imagine what it would mean for someone be completely purified and awake. It may be helpful to practice in front or a shrine, using a Buddha image as a point of reference.

The third contemplation is the meditation on foulness, focusing on the “unlovely” aspect of the body. Visualizing the corruption of a dead body is the traditional method. First the corpse is cast away, and then its flesh begins to degrade. Ultimately the bones become detached, whiten and ultimately turn to dust. We move from a shocking, almost violent image through increasing peacefulness to emptiness.

The fourth contemplation is the meditation on death. As such, this is the contemplation of impermanence. Think of people you once knew who are now gone: “just as this one died and is no more, so I too will not escape that fate.” We are trying to face the stark reality that we all die.

These four meditations, two joyful and two sobering, provide profound protection. If we follow these contemplations deeply, much painful negativity can be avoided.

The meditation on loving-kindness opens the mind to a joyous acceptance and prevents the arising of the painful states based on ill-will (i.e., anger, self-criticism, etc.).

The meditation on the qualities of the Buddha fills the mind with light and bliss and overcomes a host of negativities.

The meditation on foulness allows a perception of the seed of corruption inherent in all flesh, and thereby helps to prevent discontent arising through physical desire.

The meditation on death arouses a sense of urgency and prevents the arising of sloth and boredom.

In addition of providing protection from the psychological viewpoints described above, these meditations will establish harmonious relations with unseen beings, protecting us from malevolent entities and attracting the help and protection of the devas. We should ensure that we extend loving-kindness to the devas of heaven and earth and not neglect them in our meditations.

May all beings be well and happy.
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