I had written on this prayer/mantra over 4 years ago. It seems important to revisit it, given the state of our world, being more and more divided and seeming to have no meeting place between sides.
Everyone is anxious, afraid, convinced that they are 100 percent right, and believes the “other” side is just totally ignorant at best and down-right evil at worst. The forces of greed and white-supremacy seem to be rising again in power. Selfishness seems firmly entrenched as the main religion in our country and world. And our country and citizens seem to be getting weaker and weaker—mentally, physically, spiritually, economically and societally (as a result or as a cause?). The time to pray that ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY is NOW…and past, but better to start now than later!
A sick and depraved mind will only want to pray for its own happiness, thus cementing and committing itself to its own continuing misery and suffering. This self-created pain is compounded by the fact that it thinks that other people are the cause of its unhappiness and is thus unable to change its state. The divided mind will be willing to pray for the happiness of itself and its family and will suffer, of course, slightly less than the first one. The slightly broader mind will pray for that and the happiness of its country, though many world citizens are at the low end of this category and will only pray for their own racial or regional or religious or political group. Those minds in this category will be happy in proportion with the amount they are able to expand and open and include. A mind that is intent on being happy, “armed with” an open and loving heart, will naturally ONLY be able to pray for the well-being of all. As Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching said, “Heaven arms with compassion those it would not see destroyed.”
- Maybe we aren’t going to “perfect” at praying for the well-being of all, at first, meaning that we won’t feel it in every cell and fiber of our being. If we can even just THINK it, we are giving energy to that thought and if we “feed” it, if we practice it, the strength of the thought will grow and eventually overpower our smallness and doubt and thus our fear. But we have to practice. And it’s worth practicing. A LOT. Everyone needs SOME intentional spiritual practice, those of you who are coming to Loving Kindness. The spiritual Path cannot be left to chance because the world clearly shows where that leads. If you don’t have a daily, committed spiritual practice (yet), one good possible way to begin, one that can potentially feel very good, is simply “May all beings be happy and at peace of heart.” You can even add to that, “May my thoughts, words and actions help that come to pass.”
In my classes a few weeks ago I was reading and talking a little about fascia, the connective tissue in our bodies that binds and holds all the body parts together AND connects them all together in one cohesive web. The fascia is one body-level manifestation of the Universal Truth that everything is connected. Certainly we can point to things in the “body” of humanity, or of the world, that somewhat parallel fascia in the physical body, eg. the atmosphere. However, on the larger scale like this (and beyond), the connections are, apparently and seemingly more subtle, though arguably infinitely stronger than the fascia, which is itself VERY strong. We can conceptualize these connections as being on the “psychic plane” or “mental level” or “energetic level.” “It’s all connected”, a platitude perhaps (if it’s not experienced) but universally true nonetheless.
Someone asked Amma, my teacher, once, “Amma, you say that you pray for the whole world. Who prays for you?” and she answered, “The whole world.” This is the way it HAS TO work. The apparent world (including our apparently separate self) is a reflection and manifestation of our thoughts and beliefs about it. If we pray for the whole world, the world will be praying for us, to same the extent that we are able to pray for the world.
It can’t be otherwise. What that statement actually and fully means is certainly beyond our current understanding, sensitivity and insight, but as long as we can mentally understand the logic of it, we can go from there. Worst case scenario, it’s NOT true. By praying for all beings to be happy, we have ourselves become more happy due to both the increased energy flowing through our “own” mind and being as well as the broader and less-cramped inner world that we have created as a result.
And yes, of course, praying like this is, in no small way a selfish act since it is certainly much harder for us to be at peace if our family members, our neighbors, our local community, our leaders, members of the world community, and nature are not at peace. (Remember: “Everything is connected.”) Any “selfishness” that is in the prayer is not a reason NOT to pray for the happiness of all. It is simply an inevitable reality of the loving urge that would prompt such a prayer. Ultimately WE want to become more loving and expansive because then WE feel better and are, of course, better able to offer loving service in the world.
We pray like this to actually be able to ACT like from that mental place and from that heart-felt wish. If we look carefully and investigate very intently, we find very quickly that that prayer will then impact EVERY thing we do, every word we say and ultimately every thought we think since our thoughts determine our words and our thoughts and words determine our actions. We thus do work to positively impact our own thoughts. May all the beings in all the worlds be happy and at peace of heart. May our thoughts, words and actions help this to come to pass. OM Peace Peace Peace.