about tonglen - by pema chodron

...

People often say that this practice goes against the grain of how we usually hold ourselves together. Truthfully this practice does go against the grain of wanting things on our own terms, wanting everything to work out for ourselves no matter what happens to the others. The practice dissolves the walls we've built around our hearts. It dissolves the layers of self-protection we've tried so hard to create. In Buddhist language, one would say that it dissolves the fixation and clinging of ego. 

Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In the process we become liberated from very ancient patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others. Tonglen awakens our compassion and introduces us to a far bigger view of reality. It introduces us to the unlimited spaciousness of shunyata. By doing the practice we begin to connect with the open dimension of our being.

...