Tonglen: The Practice of Giving and Receiving

Sogyal Rinpoche

IN THE TONGLEN PRACTICE OF giving and receiving, we take on, through compassion, all the various mental and physical sufferings of all beings; their fear, frustration, pain, anger, guilt, bitterness, doubt, and rage, and we give them, through love, all our happiness and well-being, peace of mind, healing, and fulfillment.


1. Before you begin with this practice, sit quietly and bring your mind home. Then, meditate deeply on compassion. Summon and invoke the presence of all the buddhas, bodhisattvas, and enlightene.d beings, so that, through their inspiration and blessing, compassion may be born in your heart.
2. Imagine in front of you, as vividly and poignantly as possible, someone you care for who is suffering. Try and imagine every aspect of the person's pain and distress. Then, as you feel your heart opening in compassion toward the person, imagine that all of his or her sufferings manifest together and gather into a great mass of hot, black, grimy smoke.
3. Now, as you breathe in, visualize that this mass of black smoke dissolves, with your in breath, into the very core of your self-grasping at your heart. There it destroys completely all traces of self-cherishing, thereby purifying all your negative karma.
4. Imagine now that your self-cherishing has been destroyed, that the heart of your enlightened mind, your bodhicitta, is fully revealed. As you breathe out, then, imagine that you are sending out its brilliant, cooling light of peace, joy, happiness, and ultimate well-being to your friend in pain, and that its rays are purifying all his or her negative karma.
5. So at the moment the light of your bodhicitta streams out to touch your fi-iend in pain, it is essential to feel a firm conviction that all of his or her negative karma has been purified, and a deep, lasting joy that he or she has been totally freed of suffering and pain.
Then, as you go on breathing normally, in and out, continue steadily with this practice.

Share with a Friend

Email to a Friend

Already a member? Log in to share this content.

You must be a Tricycle Community member to use this feature.

1. Join as a Basic Member

Signing up to Tricycle newsletters will enroll you as a free Tricycle Basic Member.You can opt out of our emails at any time from your account screen.

2. Enter Your Message Details

Enter multiple email addresses on separate lines or separate them with commas.