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Metta

Buddha Mind - get one, be one.

INTRO | BASICS | POSTURE | SAMATHA||VIPASSANA | BREATH | METTA | ASUBHA | WALKING

 

 

 


responding

 

 


good

Metta, like many Pali words, has a range of meanings: loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and nonviolence - and lots more. It is commonly translated as loving-kindness and is concerned with the well being of all living beings. It is a universal, unselfish and all-embracing love.
All living things respond positively to love and kindness. Is this true? Consider plants - as being fairly simple living things. On a physical level they can easily be seen as healthier when they get lots of sunshine and are well watered and fed. One even reads of them responding on an emotional level. This is not so easy to prove. If you have ever had a pet; how does it respond to being kicked and yelled at?
Good health results from care and kindness and bad health results from indifference and abuse. I hopefully imagine that you agree with this. So, if pets and plants like love and kindness and care and attention then why should we be different? Truth is we aren't, but it often seems as if we are a bit short changed in the loving-kindness department. What to do?
To start with:
be clear in your mind of the bad results of anger, hatred, resentment, indignation, and so forth.
be clear in your mind of the good results of kindness, affection, tolerance, friendliness, good will, etc.
This is not to expect that you will have none of the qualities of the first list and all of those in the second list - just that you see the positive value in loving-kindness.

Aims:
There are two areas the developing of metta aims at: external and internal.
External: the aim is to live in the world as harmlessly as possible, both in relation to living and non-living entities. This is to be both ecologically conscious and socially sensitive. It includes things like; being frugal (not using more than one needs, or wasting what one has), being moderate in one's lifestyle (not living excessively in any way), being modest, guarding one's speech, respecting the property and general situation of others, offering help where one can, being generous, performing one's duties well, etc. All of this is very high-minded and saintly and may seem to be beyond your abilities but, we all have some goodness as part of our character and the aims suggested here are a reference point. We always begin from where we are and having a clear aim tends to result in a clear journey.
Internal: the aim is very simple; to have an unselfish mind / heart. The combination of a concentrated mind and a heart free from hatred, etc. constitutes a state of liberation - enlightenment - freedom from suffering. OK!

Monks, for one who practises metta, eleven benefits can be expected. Which eleven?
One sleeps easily  ~  wakes easily  ~  dreams no evil dreams  ~  is dear to human beings  ~  dear to non-human beings  ~  the devas (forces of goodness) protect one  ~  neither fire, poison, nor weapons can harm one  ~  one's mind concentrates easily  ~  one's complexion is bright  ~  one dies unconfused and - if penetrating no higher  ~  one is born in the Brahma worlds.   [AN: XI.16]

 


receiving you

 

 

 


in for servicing

I'm OK.
Selfishness is the primary target of the Buddha's teaching.
Practising metta - universal, all-embracing love - is a way to soften our attachment to this self-ishness. The first place to start is with oneself. That's you! This may seem curiously selfish but if we are aiming to radiate this quality throughout the universe we need to do some work on the 'transmitter' first. As our 'signal' gets stronger we can extend our energies outward.
So, the first thing is to get a bit of love going locally - in your heart. A common obstacle is a sense of unworthiness. Self disparagement, self criticism and judgment, a sense of low self esteem - all these seem to be common attitudes. A simple test of where you are at with this: Sit in meditation, bring the concept of metta into the mind and heart, bring one's awareness to one's own being then use the words 'I love you' directed at you. Repeat this over and over for several minutes. What is the resultant feeling? Is it of being cared for and loved? Or of discomfort - even squeamishness? This will give you some idea of what state the 'transmitter' is in.
I will assume that there are a few 'dodgy diodes' and that you wish to undertake repairs. What really needs establishing very firmly is, that you are basically OK. Not perfect perhaps but there is enough goodness to be getting on with. Contemplate the goodness in your life - allow that there is some. Don't set the standard too high; so things like feeding the neighbours cat, lending someone your pencil, a friendly greeting - these are all good things - give them value as such. It is so important to have an appreciation your goodness, what you already have - there must be a foundation on which to build. Try making a list. Get the help of a friend to make a list. You can do this as a mutual metta exercise.
As a way of getting in touch with the general feeling of love and kindness you can develop the image of a friend, a loved one, a family member who you have a positive feeling toward. Someone who has offered you some love and kindness in the past. There is always someone. Again, don't set the standard too high. Just pick the best you have. Sit in meditation and bring their image into your heart. Perhaps remember a situation that was particularly loving. Then, let go of the image and try to just experience the feeling in the heart that comes with such an exercise. Practice this often and really get to know the feeling. Make this feeling so familiar that it is easy to find - like touching your nose in the dark. You know where your nose is because you have referred to it a lot over the years. Do the same with this feeling of love in the heart.
You can use other symbols that might come to mind. These can be visual - like a photograph or a gift you have received; or a piece of music or a tape of a friends voice - whatever helps you to get in touch with the feeling of love and kindness in your heart. Remember that it is the feeling that we are trying to cultivate here and what stimulates it is not so important, and do appreciate the difference between the feeling and the object. You need to be able to turn to the feeling independent of any-thing, any-place, any-time.
You could experiment with various word combinations. A typical set is: "May I be well, may I be happy, may I be free from suffering." Repeat this over and over in the heart. You can do this for 30 seconds while you wait for something. Ten times 30 seconds = five minutes the heart is being healed with metta. The trick is remembering to turn to this practice. Often.
INTRO | BASICS | POSTURE | SAMATHA||VIPASSANA | BREATH | METTA | ASUBHA | WALKING