In regards to metta
we've mentioned conditional love,
passion, and sentimentality. How
does your heart shift when the word "gentle" is
Metta is likened to a gentle rain that falls upon
the earth. This rain does not select and choose—"I'll
rain here, and I'll avoid that place over there." Rather,
it simply falls without discrimination.
The other root meaning for metta is "friend."
What does “friend” connote
for you? What does friendship mean
to you? How might lovingkindness
relate to friendship?
A good friend, the Buddha said, is someone
who is constant in our times of happiness and
also in our times of adversity or unhappiness.
A friend does forsake us when we are in trouble
nor rejoice in our misfortune. The Buddha described
a true friend as being a helper, someone who
will protect us when we are unable to take care
of ourselves, who will be a refuge to us when
we are afraid.
Beginning with yourself
The practice of metta, uncovering the force
of love that can uproot fear, anger, and guilt,
begins with befriending ourselves. It means developing
the art of friendship—a spirit of friendship—first
Reflect on the Buddha's
can search throughout the
for someone who is more deserving
of your love and affection than
you are yourself, and that person
is not to be found anywhere.
You yourself, as much as anybody
in the entire universe, deserve
your love and affection.
How few of us embrace ourselves in this way!
With metta practice we uncover the possibility
of truly respecting ourselves. We discover, as
Walt Whitman put it, "I am larger and better
than I thought. I did not think I held so much
you're afraid, just put your head in
the lap of the Buddha. Dalai
lap of the Buddha epitomizes the safety
of a true friendship. The culmination
of metta is to become such a friend
to oneself and all of life.
Directly seeing the natural radiance of our
minds re-teaches us our own loveliness. To allude
to a phrase in the Zen tradition, this is our
original face before we were born—before
we were born into identification with a separate,
limited self. Recognizing our own power to love
points us directly to recognizing this primordial
That means every aspect of ourselves, not just
those parts of ourselves we like a lot and we
proudly present to the world, but those parts
of ourselves we’re not so in touch with;
we feel cut off from. Those parts of ourselves
that we don’t like so much, that we try
to avoid. Still, we can have that sense of friendship.
When you read this
do you think this means that you
should like everyone or accept
anyone’s behavior as is?
This does not mean that we like everybody; it
doesn’t mean that we approve of how everyone
behaves. But it is a bone-deep recognition that
this is the nature of things. That we’re
connected. And we need to live in a way that