“We cultivate a way of being in this world where no one needs to earn or be deserving of our care and no one is deprived or exiled from the boundless kindness possible for each of us.” -Christina Feldman
Metta is a word that usually gets translated as “loving kindness.” It’s that feeling where you care about other people and you want good things to happen to them. Sometimes it’s translated as ‘loving friendliness.” Sometimes it’s left as simply “kindness.” Metta is the foundation of the awakened heart. Without it our journey will be empty.
We can live our lives from a perspective founded in kindness or a perspective founded in ill will/selfishness.
Ill will is usually considered the opposite, or enemy. Ill will is that feeling we get when something good happens to someone else and we want them to lose it or we immediately wonder where the good thing for us is. It’s where we see the world as an awful, negative, broken place. And the truth is when we see the world that way, we sometimes see ourselves that way too. That was my life for many many years after my parents passed away. I was the young man who wears black all the time and complains when movies have happy endings. You may know people like that. It’s not a very happy way to live. Or a very awakened one.
Christina Feldman in her book ‘Boundless Heart’ says Kindness is “an expression of a profound concern for the end of suffering and the peace that is possible for all beings.” and she goes on to say: “Metta does not ask for the ambitious desire to save the entire world but simply to rescue the mind and heart of this moment from the compulsions of ill will.”
We can only do what we can. We can only really make our little corner of the world better. Little things matter and everything you do to help others makes this world a better place. No act is too small and no act is wasted. Sometimes it seems like little things are really all we can do.
In ‘Way of the Bodhisattva’ Shantideva says, “The mind does not find peace, nor does it enjoy pleasure or joy, nor does it find rest or fortitude when the thorn of hatred dwells in the heart.”
Shantideva used the word ‘hatred’ instead of ‘ill will’ but he’s getting at the same idea. Loving kindness is our antidote to bitterness. We can choose if we want to center our hearts in love or hatred. Hating everything, making enemies out of the world, always indulging that state of mind that says I-Me-Mine…these things don’t serve us. Ill will never really helps. It steals all of our joy.
So that’s what we’re doing in our spiritual journey. We are training our hearts to incline toward kindness and away from ill will. This training is not just about our inner development, but also about how we engage with the world. We can get so caught up in cultivating focus and mindfulness that we forget other things we need. We need empathy, we need virtue, and we need a way of being in the world that spreads harmony instead of making enemies out of everything all the time.
If you’re here in Kansas City, I have a free public event coming up. Details are here:
2/26/22 2pm @Aquarius KC
Talk: Boundless Heart Meditation
AND if you want to help us build a new Buddhist temple in Kansas City, you can click here:
Rime Center Temple Project
The Rime Buddhist Center wants to be a positive force in the community. A sacred place that is full of learning, reflection and joy. We want to be a spiritual home to a vibrant sangha – your spiritual home. We invite you to participate in a truly unique project – building the first Tibetan Buddhist Temple here in Kansas City. Support us as we open the doors of loving-kindness and achieving peace through compassion.