“Practice truth, contentment and kindness; this is the most excellent way of life. One who is so blessed by the Formless Lord God renounces selfishness, and becomes the dust of all.”
Loving Kindness is traditionally called “Metta”.
Metta is a Pali word that means benevolence, friendliness, friendship, good will, kindness, and love.
The full name “Metta Bhavana” means “developing loving kindness”. So , as you can tell, metta meditation is a meditation you can use to create love and kindness.
“Love” and “Kindness” are the same in the Buddhist tradition as they are to you and I. They are about loving people, loving animals, and loving the world. They’re about doing good, meaning well, and living from a place of kindness and compassion. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that these are some of the most important and best qualities a person can possess.
Metta is even more important than that though.
Metta is one of the ten pāramīs (perfecctions) that are taught in the Theravāda school of Buddhism. Metta is the first of the four sublime states (the states described in Buddhism as the ideal ways of conduct towards living beings).
As the most social and loving species on the planet, we have the wonderful ability and inclination to connect with others, be empathic, cooperate, care, and love. On the other hand, we also have the capacity and inclination to be fearfully aggressive toward any individual or group we regard as “them.”
To tame the wolf of hate, it’s important to get a handle on “ill will” – irritated, resentful, and angry feelings and intentions toward others. While it may seem justified in the moment, ill will harms you probably more than it harms others. In another metaphor, having ill will toward others is like throwing hot coals with bare hands: both people get burned.
Avoiding ill will does not mean passivity, allowing yourself or others to be exploited, staying silent in the face of injustice, etc. There is plenty of room for speaking truth to power and effective action without succumbing to ill will. Think of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or the Dalai Lama as examples. In fact, with a clear mind and a peaceful heart, your actions are likely to be more effective.
Ill will creates negative, vicious cycles. But that means that good will can create positive cycles. Plus good will cultivates wholesome qualities in you.
i had some understanding about what tolerance and compassion were, but I didn’t understand contentment at all. I thought contentment came when you got what you wanted. I’ve since learned it doesn’t work that way. In fact I had a lot to learn about all three.
Tolerance is more than just putting up with someone or something, although that’s a good beginning. On a deeper level, it means recognizing that your way of seeing something or someone is just that – your way of seeing, which is not the same as the truth. We are so identified with our body/minds – and our opinions – that it seems quite obvious to us that we’re right. The problem is that our version of reality is limited to and skewed by our own viewpoint. Tolerance means recognizing that others have the same experience from their point of view.
If we hold on tight to our view and the other person holds on tight to his view, both people become frustrated and angry, and nobody’s having a good time. Tolerance is lightening up and letting go of having to be right. If we can do that, there is a greater possibility that understanding can be reached and hearts can be restored to ease.
To find fault with others becomes a habit. But if we are capable of finding our own faults in everyday activities, we can really progress. In fact, what we see in others are our own weaknesses and faults. Everyone becomes everyone else’s mirror but we don’t want to accept our own faults, so we do not use these mirrors to improve ourselves.