Deborah J. Haynes

Compassion Practice

Compassion Practice Compassion Practice, 5’ x 6’, crayon on black Arches paper, 2012

This large drawing presently hangs in the main office of the Department of Art and Art History, University of Colorado Boulder. Earlier this year it was in a juried exhibition at Ice Cube Gallery, Denver. And although it is posted on the Drawings page of my main website, I post it again today as a greeting for this holiday season. Its 21 layers are composed of three compassion prayers.

I began the drawing with a tracing of my body that nearly filled the paper, inside of which is a prayer commonly known as metta: “May I be filled with lovingkindness, may I be well. May I be peaceful and at ease, may I be happy.” Metta may be recited in various ways to include others, for instance: “May you be filled with lovingkindness, may you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease, may you be happy. May we be filled with lovingkindness, may we be well. May we be peaceful and at ease, may we be happy.”

The second layer is a Buddhist aspiration and dedication: “And now as long as space endures and as long as there are beings to be found, may I continue likewise to remain, to soothe the suffering of all those who live.” Like many others, I want my work in the world to serve and benefit all sentient beings.

The top layer is a traditional Buddhist refuge prayer: “In the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha I take refuge until enlightenment. By the merit of generosity and so forth, may I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings.” This mention of “generosity and so forth” alludes to the six paramitas or virtues that I aspire to cultivate in this life: generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, one-pointed attention, and wisdom. May you also find ways to cultivate the virtues you hold most dear.

Blessings for the solstice, for the great religious holidays, and for the new year! 

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