Sharon Salzbert on metta
- "I see Metta largely as a quality of attention or awareness. It's a
facet of awareness. It's how we pay attention . . . For one thing,
it's a fullness or a wholeheartedness of attention . . . it can
[also] shift, it can transform what we pay attention to. Somebody
referred earlier today to looking at the good in ourselves. There
are two kind of preliminary reflections that are often done in the
development of Metta - not because they are the only way that Metta
can come about, but because they tend to provide easy springboards
for Metta to come about. In the Buddhist psychology this is known as
the 'proximate cause,' that which is the most ready condition, or
springboard, for something else to happen.
"Traditionally the proximate cause for Metta is seeing the good in
someone, whether that's ourselves or somebody else; and that's an
exercise. If we're looking at someone else and we don't like them,
then our minds will naturally want to go over and over and over the
thing they said or the thing they did and how much we don't like
them. And if we do that, then naturally we will want to recoil, we
will want to separate, we will want to pull away. Whereas if we can
find one little sliver of good, even in a great wealth of difficulty,
it changes things . . .
"We look at the good in others because it's a balance, and that
includes [looking at] ourselves. Think about some time you said
something really stupid, or you made some terrible mistake. When
that happens our whole field of attention tends to collapse. We
become just that one stupid remark. The 50,000 nice things we did
that day are gone. That whole sense that everything changes all of
the time, [that] everybody has the potential to change all of the
time, the recognition that we can always begin again, is gone because
we are fixated, collapsed, we're stuck in that mistake.
"We look at the good just to get some balance. It's not to pretend
that the mistake never happened, that we didn't cause harm (or that
nobody ever harmed us). It's not about make- believe, but it brings
some balance because it is so easy to fixate on the negative, maybe
especially with ourselves. It's a very classic Buddhist meditation:
look for the good in yourself."
~ Sharon Salzberg, "Transcending Conditional Love," online dharma
May this be of benefit.
- "Often we think of ourselves as so deficient, so unworthy, that we
relate to the things and the people and the experiences of life as
objects we need to accumulate to kind of fill in the hole or make
ourselves feel better about ourselves; as though we could ever get
enough. Meditation is based on a completely different idea. It's not
that we have to get some kind of great experience and hold onto as a
some kind of trophy and be triumphant, show it to everybody; but that
from the beginning any of us, without exception, have capacities
innate to our being of love, of compassion, of wisdom, of connection,
of awareness, that we can nurture, that we can bring forth. But it's
not like starting out with nothing and trying to 'get' something, and
then hold onto it. It's a completely different way of being. That's
why it's about letting go. It's about being gentle. It's about
realizing we can start again no matter what has happened."
~ Sharon Salzberg, "Metta Practice Retreat, Part 2" from a retreat
given at the Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City, California
May this be of benefit.