Re: [Buddhaviharas] Loving Kindness (Metta) Practice by Shaila Catherine
- This is wonderful!
----- Original Message -----
From: Antony Woods
Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2006 8:26 PM
Subject: [Buddhaviharas] Loving Kindness (Metta) Practice by Shaila Catherine
What is metta?
Loving kindness is the simple and clear intention of good will. Metta
is the Pali word that is most often translated as Loving kindness.
The term is derived from Mitra, which means deep friendship .
Metta is a quality of heart that embraces life without conflict -- a
deep friendship with life.
Metta is an attitude of non-contention. A wonderful quality to bring
to this life.
What would it be to live in this world without contention?
What would it be like to experience life without demanding it to be
other than it is?
To care for the well being of others regardless as to whether or not
they meet our expectations, or fulfill our desires?
Imagine the depth of trust, to trust yourself so fully that you know
metta will flow to all beings.....
those that we like as well as those that we do not like,
those who have helped us and those who have hurt us
regardless of preferences.
The Buddha said: The world may quarrel with me but I do not quarrel
with the world.
Metta is a profound quality of love that goes far beyond the
sentimental desires of conventional kindness liberating the heart
from preoccupation of self concern.
We cultivate loving kindness as a gentle invitation to soften our
hearts, to connect deeper and clearer with all of life, and abide in
the ultimate wonder of an unconflicted relationship to all things and
It is not uncommon to hear people describe the pain of a closed and
The wish to live in connection, free from fear and alienation is a
strong motivation for meditation practice.
The contraction around me and what I want,
The stories of who did what to me and why it was not fair,
The grasping after what I feel I deserve,
And the armor that we weave around our hearts,
........all melt in the field of metta.
Metta embraces all beings and all conditions, without exception.
Loving Kindness is a mental factor that can be cultivated. We
practice loving kindness meditation to strengthen this attitude. It
is important to realize that metta is a mental factor and not a
feeling. Because if we look to feeling life to determine if metta is
present we will only find pleasant circumstances favorable. Metta is
not sentimental, it does need situations to be going our way . It is
a strength of heart that can stay steady in the face of pleasant and
unpleasant circumstances. Sometimes we may not feel warmhearted, yet
the deep commitment to no hatred, the dedication to care for all
beings, expresses loving kindness and the intention of good will in
very challenging circumstances.
To cultivate loving kindness........
.......... Sit quietly. Feel your feet on the floor, your contact
with the seat. Sense the uprightness of your spine. Let the posture
be alert, but without excess tension. Gently close your eyes, or gaze
softly at a neutral spot on the floor, and take a few deep breaths,
feeling yourself sitting, letting go of thoughts about past and
future. Let the breath move through the heart center, warming you,
nurturing you, gently filling you with a sense of well being.
We begin the metta practice by developing the ability to generate
loving kindness toward ourselves. Tune into a sense of yourself at
your best. Think of some aspect of yourself that you respect and
like. Imagine a situation when you helped others, when you acted from
a place of heart that cares. Let yourself rejoice in your own virtue,
and begin to silently repeat the phrases (compose 3 or 4 phrases that
resonate with you) directing the sense of well-wishing toward
yourself. We use ourselves as a kind of example, for we know we wish
to be happy and not suffer.
May I be safe from danger
May I be happy
May I be healthy and strong
May I have ease of well being
After a time, (perhaps 15 minutes), bring to mind someone who is easy
to care for. Someone who you feel gratitude toward, who you respect,
perhaps who has helped you, or a dear friend. Choose someone endowed
with virtuous qualities, worthy of admiration. Begin to repeat the
phrases of metta for them (another 10 or 15 minutes).
May you be protected from inner and outer harm.
May you be happy and peaceful in mind.
May you enjoy strength, vitality and health in body.
May you be blessed with ease of well being in your social and
Let the meaning of the phrases deepen with in your consciousness.
Contemplate the possibility of truly and simply wishing well.
You can continue to develop metta using yourself and a friend in this
way for some time, allowing the stability of mind to deepen.
As the metta grows clearer and stronger it is possible to bring to
mind more challenging people, those who we may have some conflict
with, offering the very same wishes of happiness for them.
Just as I wish to be happy, so may you be happy.........
May you be touched by loving kindness
May you receive this love
May you live in peace and harmony.
All beings want to be happy and not to suffer. This is a universal
May all beings everywhere, known and unknown, near and far, be happy,
peaceful and at ease.
Let the practice develop slowly. Little by little, phrase by phrase,
day after day, our hearts slowly incline toward a full-hearted care
for all of life.
As we become more familiar with the practice we may discover
spontaneous expressions of metta.
Metta is the intention of good will. It is known through the clear
absence of ill will, resentment, and selfishness in the mind. Metta
is not limited to reciting "May you be happy" like a kind of magical
incantation. We use the phrases merely to remind ourselves of the
deepest truths of love and connection. The metta is more pervasive
and more natural than any words could express. Words are only
pointers to the deep natural capacity of the human heart to abide in
love, pure and complete.
Notice times when your heart is at ease, in connection. Not just when
engaged in the formal loving kindness meditation with phrases. Most
people spend too much time contemplating their own problems and
limitations, and miss the opportunity to find peace in the expanse of
the boundless dimension of love. Love every day, every minute: not
limiting the practice to just times when we are sitting quietly. Take
the great risk to love life. Love all of life while walking the dog,
while exercising, while waiting in airports, shopping centers,
everywhere we go we can be silently cultivating a intention of care
and good will. Every moment when we drop our obsessive preoccupation
with self concern and our judgments of the inadequacies of others ,
we open to a vast, still and loving truth beyond words, beyond
This is edited from a talk given by Shaila Catherine at a class on
Metta in 2001 at Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA.
Loving kindness; the Revolutionary Art of Happiness, Sharon Salzberg,
Step by Step: Meditations on Wisdom and Compassion, Maha Ghosananda,
Parallax Press, Berkeley, CA 1992
How Can I Help? Stories and Reflections on Service, Ram Dass and Paul
Gorman, Knopf, New York, 1985
Spirit for Change: Voices of Hope for a World in Crisis, Christopher
Titmuss, green Print, London, 1989
Learning True Love; How I Learned and Practiced Social Change in
Vietnam, Chan Khong, Parallax Press, Berkeley, CA 1993
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