There was a teacher who taught the cultivation of compassion this way: First, he advised us to think about the people we like such as our parents, spouses etc., and think about their contributions; you will feel touched and compassionate towards them. Next, you think about your friends and relatives, and their contributions, and your feeling of compassion towards them. Next, you think about the strangers, their contributions and your feeling of compassion towards them. Finally, you think about the people you dislike, who scolded and beat you, and you try to develop a sense of compassion towards them too.
But my method is different. No matter what, regardless of whom you like or dislike, you should treat everyone well. You can only succeed in your cultivation when you develop a sense of compassion equally towards everyone. The teacher starts with the people one likes, and gradually extending it to the people one dislikes. I don’t practice this way because this method is not only slow, it will not lead you to the ultimate state of enlightenment. I believe there are many people practicing this way but I find this method ineffective.
Why do I find it ineffective? When you discriminate between the “likes” and “dislikes”, you will not be able to break free from the cyclic existence (samsara). When you progress from the ones you love, to the ones you don’t, you have in fact fallen into a cyclic existence. When you discriminate between the likes and dislikes, and group them into four different groupings, then you are trapped by a differentiating mind. When you assume that there is “good” and “bad”, which are clearly antagonistic, then you will be forever be stranded in the cyclic existence. I don’t practice this way.
When I first started my practice, I killed my “self” and my “ego”. When the “ego” is killed, all things associated with the “ego” are killed too - they completely vanished. When I killed my “ego”, I no longer see the notion of “mine”. That is why I seldom mention about "my mother", "my wife" and "my son". Why? Because when you kill your “ego”, all things associated with “me” will naturally vanish. There is no “my” parents, “my” children and “my” belongings. When all things associated with “me” have vanished, you will no longer grasp the notion of “mine”.
When the notion of “I” has been eradicated, you will then enter a state of emptiness; you will feel as if you have died. This is a very critical moment that, at this juncture, bodhicitta (enlightenment mind) must now arise in you. Because when you enter this state of being, you no longer have “your” beloved parents, friends or foes. There are no longer discriminations among them when you die - your parents are no longer related to you; your son and your loved ones are no longer related to you; and your enemies are no longer related to you. When you no longer have the “most beloved one”, there will not be the “most hated one”. Such discriminations would simply vanish.
At that point, you will enter a state of emptiness, and you will realize the illusory state of your existence. There are many people resorting to committing suicide at this stage. Why? For one will feel very glum and depressed at this stage. There were many Arahats killing themselves at this point because they felt glum and empty. At the point when you feel glum, you must develop your sense of bodhicitta. When your bodhicitta is developed, you will see all sentient beings being equal - there is no longer a discrimination between whom you love and whom you don’t. You will not feel particularly attached to “your” parents, “your” sons or “your” daughters. Instead, you will see all sentient beings as equal. Only at that point you would have really reached the state of equanimity. Otherwise, your visualization of the ones you like or dislike will make you fall into a dualistic mind.
Visualization is deceiving. When a situation happens, you will be most concerned about the ones you love; when you see your children getting into trouble, you will not be too concerned about others but your kids. You can talk about the theories very well but you are just deceiving yourself by mere talking.
So, the most crucial point is to kill your own “ego”. How? First, develop the sense of impermanence. Develop a very strong sense of impermanence in you and let go of your attachments to all the worldly concerns. Think about impermanence at all times. You should not just love what is associated with you - let go of all that you like or dislike. Let go of your attachments to food and enjoyment, let go of your attachments to what you saw, let go of your attachments to all things associated with you, and develop your sense of renunciation. Only then will you be able to let go of your ego and all things associated with you. When you have completely let go of all worldly attachments, at this point, you will fully develop your bodhicitta, you will then see all sentient beings in this universe as equal. By then, you will attain the Wisdom of Equanimity. Otherwise, you are just a copycat, copying repeating after others and Sakyamuni Buddha, when you are still very much a discriminative person.
One who has attained the Wisdom of Equanimity can be recognized. However, there are only few people in this world who have attained the Wisdom of Equanimity. There are very few such people, but they are all great men - the Bodhisattvas. When one has not truly attained the Wisdom of Equanimity, he has not renounced his worldly attachments. When he simply talks about it, he is just lying. Most people are still obscured by their own lust, hatred and ignorance, to varying degrees; it is truly hard for most to let go of their worldly pursuits.