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Re: [Buddhaviharas] Loving Kindness (Metta) Practice by Shaila Catherine

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  • Sharon Werner
    This is wonderful! ... From: Antony Woods To: Buddhaviharas@yahoogroups.com Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2006 8:26 PM Subject: [Buddhaviharas] Loving Kindness
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 27, 2006
      This is wonderful!


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Antony Woods
      To: Buddhaviharas@yahoogroups.com
      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
      all beings.

      It is not uncommon to hear people describe the pain of a closed and
      contracted heart.

      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
      material relations.

      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.

      Recommended books
      Loving kindness; the Revolutionary Art of Happiness, Sharon Salzberg,
      Shambala, 1995
      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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