Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Activity 4: Loving Kindness

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Description of Activity

Participants learn about and discuss an important Buddhist tool to teach loving kindness.

Tell the group, in these words or your own:

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the Buddhism, was identified at the age of two as the 14th reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. At that age, he and his family went to live with monks so his preparation and instruction could begin. While still a small boy, he was introduced to the ancient Buddhist text Eight Verses for Training the Mind, written by Buddhist Master Langri Tangpa (1054-1123). This text has been part of his daily meditation since then.

Distribute Handout 1, Eight Verses for Training the Mind. Invite the youth to take a few minutes to read it to themselves.

Then, ask for initial observations. Prompt discussion of the handout with questions such as these:

  • Westerners in general, Americans in particular, and maybe especially Unitarian Universalists value the individual-but so does Buddhism. How do you respond to the idea "think of myself as lowest of all?" Does that rub you the wrong way? What purpose could this serve? [It affirms nonattachment to pride, i.e., humility.]
  • How do you respond to holding beings of "wicked natures" " rare and precious treasure"? What spiritual purpose does this serve? [Everyone can teach us something; everyone has value.]
  • If people treat you badly, do you think about them with gratitude? Is this a good idea? Why or why not?
  • What is meant by "secretly take upon myself the harmful actions and suffering of my mothers"? Does this suggest we should take responsibility for wrongdoing as well as pain committed by others? If you could succeed at this, what state of mind would it put you in?
  • For most Americans, the idea of responding with generosity when someone mistreats us-to "suffer the loss and offer the victory to them"-is challenging. What's the value of this response? Is the "victory" referred to here a real one? Is the "loss" real? What is the value of detachment from such concepts as winning and losing?
  • Would this be a useful meditation tool for you to practice loving kindness? What barriers do you feel to embracing the teachings of the Eight Verses?