Loving kindness or a mindful empty practice!

Loving kindness or a mindful empty practice discusses the true essence of what a mindfulness practice should be through looking into the various teachings.


In Buddhism desire is often interchanged with the word greed. When written in this context the meaning of desire is to want things that one is not in need of. Conceptualizing desire in this way can also refer to the sensual side of desire, which is considered a hindrance in Buddhism.


Once the desire is obtained the individual soon loses interest due to the waning pleasure the desire has provided and they then begin to desire something else. In Buddhism this constant craving that is driven by one desire after another is a poisonous mental state to exist in. As such, the individual must learn to break the cycle of suffering through putting an end to seeking empty short lived gratifications/cravings/desires.


The Buddhist technique for stopping unwholesome desires and unwholesome thinking is to live according to the mental disciple obtained through the 8 fold path. Mindfulness is a key part to successfully following this disciple, which may lead to peace of mind, or enlightenment. However, western society has exaggerated mindfulness meditation (excluding the other 7 folds of the path) as the answer to achieving a greater sense of wellbeing. Unfortunately, focusing on the breath in order to return the mind to present moment awareness of non-judgmentally viewing reality is not the way to achieve high levels of flourishing. Although, it is the way in part, without the fullness of the teaching, the way in part will only lead to a temporal experience of peace through the existence of emptiness, where the individual has emptied out the darkness (or unwholesome desires and thoughts) and remained empty!


This empty state of mind can occur when the individual does not acquired a deeper understanding of the self, or the desires within the self. Therefore, in looking for a way to end their own personal suffering, they have emptied themselves out but not filled themselves up, and have merely become an empty vessel, only striving towards self-gratification for the ego. Although an empty vessel may make the loudest sound, it still only bellows out emptiness to whoever chooses to listen. They have merely and momentarily turned off desire, which cannot last since we are born with the will to desire. Due to ignorance they have run from suffering, rather than embracing the truth of wholesome suffering. And as we know from the example of Christ and Biblical teachings, long suffering is a fruit of the spirit of light.


So, no matter how much mindfulness this person practices – they will remain in an unwell state of mind and will not find a sense of wellbeing because they have not found a way to be filled with the light. That is, in order to develop high levels of wellbeing the individual must not merely be emptied out, but most importantly then be filled up with the light, and/or the wholesome desires that the light brings. Wholesome desires lead to wholesome thoughts. Wholesome thoughts bring a sense of wellbeing – even through the times where the individual may experience long suffering.


While Buddhism highlights the need for a cessation of craving, due to the suffering craving or desire causes, we must understand that craving or desire and suffering are qualities that exist in both the light and the dark.


Going deeper through the Kabbalist understanding of desire

The Jewish Kabbalah highlights the need to understand desire at the soul level of experience. If we wish to control our thoughts we must realise that the unwholesome suffering that our thoughts can create is manifested from our unwholesome desires. That is, Kabbalah teachings highlight the fact that thought is not the starting point of our desires and therefore our actions. It is the desire that the individual first feels that produces thoughts, which lead to actions.


Our thoughts cannot change our desires and our thoughts surrounding a particular desire will continue to expand as we want or need that desire to be acted upon, or experienced in reality. Therefore, since we cannot simply turn off desire, if we want to experience wholesome thoughts that lead to worthy actions, or life experiences, we must learn how to desire wholesome things. But in order to do this we must first learn to feel a certain way. Because, as mentioned, feeling creates thought – not the other way around. Loving kindness is a feeling we need to cultivate.


In this teaching the ultimate goal is to transition from the natural state of wanting to receive good things to a higher level of existence, or upper level of existing in a state of wanting to bestow good things.


The way

In order to experience wholesome desire and therefore to experience wholesome thinking we must meditate with intention. That is, we use meditation to purposefully experience the love we feel in our heart. First we experience love through feelings for those we already love. We then build on this experience by spending time in that feeling, and extending that feeling of love towards others, which includes our enemies. In this way, we feel a growing sense of love for all. This leads to feeling a wholesome desire of love for one another. In turn, this leads to experiencing wholesome thoughts, which leads to preforming wholesome actions. This is the state of the upper level of experience, or the outpouring of the light, which allows us to feel a sense of flourishing and in turn continues to perpetuate the cycle of the way.


So there you have it – mindfulness is an empty practices unless you also take time out to meditate on feeling an inner experience of love! If you have been practicing mindfulness please contemplate whether you have been practicing Loving kindness or a mindful empty practice!


Are you ready to experience a loving kindness meditation?

You may wish to study versus written about love. This is called self-seclusion meditation. You simply sit quietly in a place where you will not be interrupted and read a verse (usually written by a spiritual teacher) and then take time to think about what you have read. People often use prayer to begin these types of meditations as a way of seeking guidance from the light within.

You may like to read and meditate on a variety of religious sources.


Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam


Learn to develop mental imagery and a way to bestow love (great for ages 3 and up)

The Dandelion Meditation


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May loving kindness grow in your heart and bring you inner peace.

Kind regards

Elizabeth Mulhane