That got your attention!
‘ Metta (Loving-Kindness)
The Buddha spoke frequently of metta. This is a very important practice so I thought it had better have its own page. Loving-kindness needs its own page as we constantly need reminding of it.
When I was a teenager I didn’t have much loving-kindness for myself. On the way home from school I used to go over and over in my mind: what I’d said to people, what I shouldn’t have said; what I should have said; how I should have said it. Over and over! I’d practically reconstruct the whole flippin’ day! What a way to live! I had very little patience, understanding, forgiveness and friendliness for myself.
Later on when I was a novice, I was sat one day in my little kuti practising one of the loving-kindness meditations. I needed it. So there I was, saying over and over in my mind:
“May I be happy, may I be happy, may I be happy…”
Half an hour or more later it seemed that I would have more luck in trying to rollerskate up Mount Everest than be able to feel some loving-kindness for myself. But then something happened. The penny dropped. I thought to myself:
“If I’ve been sitting here all this time, in this little 7 x 5 ft hut – saying over and over in my head “may I be happy, may I be happy, may I be happy…..” – I must really need some loving-kindness for myself! Poor Manapo!”
And that did it. My attitude shifted. I viewed myself differently. I discovered that friendship was there within me, I just hadn’t recognized it. This is how it is with many of us.
Listed below are eight advantages of practising metta as stated by the Buddha:
1. “One sleeps in comfort. 2. One awakes in comfort. 3. One sees no evil dreams. 4. One is dear to human beings. 5. One is dear to non-human beings. 6. One’s mind can concentrate quickly. 7. One’s countenance is serene. 8. One dies without being confused in mind.” (AN. 11.16)
Patience; Understanding; Forgiveness; Friendliness.
Each of these qualities is one of the facets of the jewel of loving-kindness.
So we compose body and mind. Then silently, deliberately, carefully, and slowly we recite these words in our mind. We say each word twice:
Then we say them in reverse order. And then forward order, and so on.
We allow each word to sink in. We nurture each word; we bring it to life. We understand what they mean and how special they are. Aren’t they amazing! Gradually we connect with them and they begin to permeate our being.
Imagine dripping tiny drops of red ink into a large bowl of water. The first drop makes no difference to the colour of the water. The second drop – still no difference. The third – it’s beginning to change. The fourth…. The tenth….. It’s really changing colour now.
And so it goes on; though we have to keep at it, don’t we? So it is with this practice of loving-kindness. By patiently reciting these words and opening ourselves up to them the mind gradually softens and changes until it is infused with these wonderful qualities. The body then feels pleasant and light and the mind becomes concentrated and stable
When the mind has connected with these states we direct them towards ourself. We saturate body and mind. Then we radiate them outwards to all beings. In the end there will be no distinction between you and me. There will be only loving-kindness.