Essential Tibetan Buddhism, p. 137, taken from Geshe Wangyal’s "The Door of Liberation: Essential Teachings of the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition "

Asanga’s Teaching of
Great Compassion

To conceive the spirit of enlightenment, you first must develop equanimity toward all beings, and then contemplate the sevenfold cause-and-effect spiritual instruction given by Maitreya to Asanga. First imagine before you a being who has neither helped you nor harmed you. Think, "From his own point of view, he wants happiness and does not want suffering, just like everybody else. I will free myself from attraction and aversion. I will not feel close to some and help them while feeling distant from others and harming them. I will develop equanimity towards all beings. Lamas and gods, enable me to do this!"

Once you feel equanimity toward that neutral person, imagine a person who attracts you. Try to feel equanimity toward that person. Think, "My partiality is due to my attraction. Since I have always desired attractive beings, I have been reborn constantly in the miserable life-cycle." Thus restrain your desire and meditate.

Once you feel equanimity toward that attractive person, imagine an unattractive person. Try to feel equanimity toward him. Think, "Because there has been discord between us, I have developed an aversion to him and so lack equanimity. Without it, I cannot conceive the spirit of enlightenment!" Thus restrain your aversion and meditate.

When you feel equanimity toward that unattractive person, imagine both persons together. Think, "These two are the same in that each, from her own viewpoint, wants happiness and doesn’t want misery. From my viewpoint, this one who seems so close now has been reborn as my enemy countless times. This one toward whom I feel hostile has been reborn as my mother countless times and has cared for me with love. Which one should I like? Which one should I hate? I will feel equanimity and free myself from attachment and aversion. Lamas and gods, please enable me to do this!"

When you feel such equanimity, extend it to all beings. "All beings are the same. Each wants happiness and doesn’t want misery. All beings are my relatives. Therefore I will learn equanimity and be free from attachment and aversion to near and far, helping some and harming others. Lamas and gods, help me to accomplish this!"

Once you have developed this mind of equanimity, implement the first of the seven causal instructions for attaining the spirit of enlightenment. Visualize the lamas and gods before you and contemplate: "Why are all beings my relatives? As there is no beginning to the life-cycle, there has also been no beginning to my rebirths. In passing through these countless lives, there is no form of life which I have not adopted countless times, and there is no country or realm in which I have not been born. Of all beings, there is not one who has not been my mother innumerable times. Each has been my mother in human form countless times, and will become my mother many times again."

When you have fully experienced this truth, contemplate the kindness which living beings have shown you when they were your mother. Visualize the lamas and gods before you, and imagine clearly your mother of this life, when she was young and as she grew old. "Not only is she my mother in this life, but she has cared for me lives beyond number. In this lifetime, she lovingly sheltered me in her womb, and when I was born she lovingly put me on soft pillows and cradled me in her arms. She held me to the warmth of her breasts, and suckled me with her sweet milk. She welcomed me with loving smiles and looked at me with happy eyes. She cleaned my snotty nose and wiped away my excrement. My slightest ailment gave her worse misery than the thought of losing her own life. Scorning all affliction, torments, and abuse, not considering herself at all, she provided me as well as she could with food and shelter. She gave me infinite happiness and benefit, and protected me from measureless misery and harm." Contemplate her very great kindness.Then, in the same way contemplate the kindness of your father and others close to you, for they have also been your mother countless times.

When you have fully experienced this truth, meditate on beings toward whom you feel impartial. "Though it now seems that they have no relationship to me, they have been my mother times beyond number, and in those lives they protected me with love and kindness." (1) When you have experienced this truth, meditate on those beings who are now your adversaries. Imagine them clearly before you and think: "How can I now feel these are my enemies? As lifetimes are beyond number, they have been my mother countless times. When they were my mother they provided me with measureless happiness and benefits and protected me from misery and harm. Without them I could not have lasted even a short time and without me they could not have endured even a short time. We have felt such strong attachment countless times. That they are now my adversaries is due to bad evolutionary actions. At another time in the future they will again be my mother who protects me with love."When you have fully experienced this truth, meditate on the kindness of all beings. 

Then meditate on repaying the kindness of all beings, your mothers. Visualize the lamas and deities before you and contemplate: "From beginningless time these mothers have protected me with kindness. Yet as their minds are disturbed by the demons of addictive passions, they have not obtained independence of mind, and are crazed. They lack the eye to see either the path to the high states of humans and gods or the path to Nirvana, the supreme good.They are without a spiritual teacher, the one who is the leader of the blind.Continually pummeled by the discord of wrong deeds, they slip toward the edge of the terrifying abyss of rebirth in the life-cycle, especially its lower states. To ignore these kind mothers would be shameless. To return their kindness I will free them from misery of the life-cycle and establish them in the bliss of liberation. Lamas and gods, enable me to do this."

Then meditate love. Imagine a person to whom you are strongly attached, such as your mother. "How can she have undefiled happiness when she does not even have the defiled happiness of the life-cycle? What she now boasts of as happiness slips away, changing into misery. She yearns and yearns, strives and strives, desiring a moment’s happiness, but she is only creating the causes of future misery and rebirths in lower states of being. In this life as well, weary and exhausted, she creates only misery. She definitely does not have real happiness. How wonderful it would be if she possessed happiness and all the causes of happiness! May she possess them! I will cause her to possess happiness and all its causes. Lamas and gods, please enable me to do this!"

When you have gained experience of this, continue to meditate, first imagining other persons who are close to you, such as your father, then imagining a person toward whom you feel impartial, then an adversary, and finally all beings.

Then do the meditation of great compassion and universal responsibility: "My kind fathers and mothers, whose number would fill the sky, are helplessly bound by evolutionary actions and fettering passions. The four rivers, the river of desire, existence, ignorance, and fanaticism, sweep them helplessly into the currents of the life-cycle, when they are battered by the waves of birth, old age, sickness, and death. They are completely tied up by the tight and hard to break bonds of various kinds of evolutionary actions. From beginningless time they have entered into the iron cage of holding the concepts of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ in the center of the heart. This cage is very difficult for anyone to open. Enshrouded by the great darkness of ignorance, which obscures judgment of good and evil, they do not even see the path leading to the happy states of being. Much less do they see the path leading to liberation and enlightenment.

"These wretched beings are ceaselessly tortured by the suffering of misery, the suffering of change, and the all-pervasive suffering of creation. I have seen all beings, my mothers, wretched, engulfed in the ocean of the life-cycle. If I do not save them, who will? If I were to ignore them, I would be shameless, the lowest of all. My desire to learn the Mahayana would be only words, and I could not show my face before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Therefore, no matter what, I will develop the ability to pull all my kind sad mothers from the ocean of the life-cycle and to establish them in Buddhahood."

Think this and generate a very strong and pure universal responsibility.

Finally, meditate the spirit of enlightenment. Ask yourself whether or not you can establish all beings in Buddhahood, and reflect, "I do not know where I am going; how can I establish even one being in Buddhahood? Even those who have attained the positions of disciple or hermit Buddha can accomplish only the minor purposes of beings, and cannot establish beings into Buddhahood. It is only a perfect Buddha who can lead beings to full enlightenment. Therefore, no matter what, I will obtain peerless and completely perfect Buddhahood for the sake of all beings. Lamas and gods, please enable me to do this!"

Footnote

(1) [Though I have a hard time believing that all beings have been my mother, I find that contemplating this, love does radiate more easily to strangers and even enemies. It also made me realize how close we are even to those beings we hardly know or meet - we share their thoughts, they have helped build our culture etc. So even when they have not literally been our mother countless times, it is I think a spiritual reality that they have been co-responsible in making us who we are or in other words: they did help us in growing up. This radiating love is obviously the object of this exercise. Katinka Hesselink]