A compassion meditation for time of war

flowersThis page was set up in response to the commencement of hostilities in Afghanistan, in order to help people keep a sense of balanced humanity and compassion towards all of the people involved in the conflict. The meditation is not specific to that conflict, however, and can be used as a reflection on any war.

This meditation has been set up to help us maintain a sense of compassion during these times of conflict. The meditation is called the “Karuna Bhavana”. Karuna is the Buddhist word for compassion, and Bhavana means development or cultivation. So the Karuna Bhavana is the practice of development of compassion. Compassion is what we experience when love meets suffering. And it’s appropriate in time of war to cultivate this emotion so that we do not shirk facing up to the consequences of what is happening around us and in particular what’s happening in our name in foreign lands.

Karuna is based on a love and respect for others, irrespective of their beliefs, gender, race, religion, or nationality. We can feel compassion for others even if we disagree profoundly with their beliefs or actions. In fact we can recognize strongly that their beliefs contribute to their own and others’ suffering and feel compassion all the more strongly.

Compassion is simply a recognition and a loving response to the perception of suffering, and we certainly don’t need even to like someone to feel compassion for them. Nor is it necessary that we see ourselves as superior in order to feel compassion for others. In fact, feeling superior to others blocks the development of compassion. This is how compassion differs from pity.

The meditation is recorded in RealAudio format, Windows Media format, and MP3. The free RealOne program can be downloaded for free from the RealNetworks web site (look for the Free RealOne Player link). The Windows media player is pre-installed on every modern PC running Windows.

You can play an MP3 version by clicking on the player below:

Also an audio CD containing three guided meditations led by Bodhipaksa, including the Development of Lovingkindness, is available in our bookstore.

Versions of this meditation

With metta (lovingkindness),
Dharmachari Bodhipaksa