Thanksgiving Tonglen


Thanksgiving Tonglen

Tonglen is a Buddhist practice of transforming suffering. I like to think of it as a prayer that’s synchronized with breath. For example, on the in breath, I call into my heart someone else’s suffering, and allow my own light to transform it. On the out breath, I breathe out a blessing for that person. I stay with my breath in this way, blessing one situation over and over, or moving through a litany of circumstances.

Thanksgiving Tonglen

I breathe in, I breathe out.
For this I am grateful.

I breathe in the uncertainty and anguish
of those who are entwined with illness.
I breathe out comfort and healing.

I breathe in the agony
of those who have lost loved ones to violence.
I breathe out love.

I breathe in the aftermath of natural disaster,
the unclean water, the lack I am entirely unaware of.
I breathe out strength and restoration.

I breathe in the violation of sacred gathering,
the reverberating loss of trust.
I breathe out courage.

I breathe in the echoes of silenced humiliation.
I breathe out compassion and forgiveness.

I breathe in the alienation and intolerance
of those misled into acts of violence.
I breathe out healing and connection.

I breathe in the hopelessness
created by messages from ignorant leaders.
I breathe out hope for change.

I breathe in misunderstanding,
between friends, between strangers, between countries.
I breathe out harmony.

For every suffering I am unaware of,
for every person in need of prayer,
I breathe in, I breathe out.

And when my heart can process no more,
I call on the ever-present angels
to absorb what I witness,
to transform every shade of pain,
and to send through me a blessing outward
into the world.

I breathe in, I breathe out.
For this I am grateful.


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