In this first lesson, Alan begins with a brief explanation of the topics covered in the course (both parts I and II):
1) the Four Immeasurables, or Divine Abidings: loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and impartiality
2) the “Four Greats”—expanded and enriched ways of practicing with the Four Immeasurables
3) how to practice the Four Immeasurables and the Four Greats from the perspective of vajrayana, and in particular as Avalokitesvara
4) and how we’ll explore the practice of bodhicitta from the perspective of Dzogchen.
The majority of the first video of the lesson is then devoted to exploring the most essential of human pursuits: happiness. Alan explores the human longing for happiness, and what we really mean by the word itself. He discusses what we really mean when we wish for our own happiness (and the happiness of others), reflecting on different kinds of happiness, such as the Greek concept of hedonia and the Tibetan concept of yang dag pai dewa, sublime well-being.
In the second video of this lesson, we begin our exploration of the Four Immeasurables with the first, loving-kindness. Alan explains how the practice begins with establishing relaxation, composure, and then clarity as the foundation for practicing the Four Immeasurables. He explains in depth the art of settling the mind and resting in awareness, and what the internal experience looks like as we settle more deeply into the peaceful presence of awareness. He also explores the question of where loving-kindness actually comes from.
Additional reading recommended by Alan Wallace: Love and Sympathy In Theravada Buddhism by Harvey B. Aronson
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