Times for the Tonglen

These are Tonglen times. The “world is too much with me” on the inside and out. It is a powerless feeling, fear; I “wall” myself in with what I know is true. Yet, I am not secure.

Exclusion is not the way of Tonglen or of the world. In Tonglen practice, there is the “giving and taking or sending and receiving” of compassion, a two-way street of bumper-to-bumper traffic.


As Pema Chödrön says, “the things that really drive us nuts have enormous energy in them. That is why we fear them” and why we keep them so close.

Tonglen opens us up. In a matter of a single in-breath, we “have the chance to own fear completely, not blaming anybody, and to ventilate it with the out-breath” (Chödrön).

Compassion starts with a single breath and grows into the light we truly are:

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people

permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear,

our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

It is in the owning of our fear that we are free of it. It is not that we become each other’s truth. It is that we are not each other’s fear.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity in daily doses. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page. 

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