Dear Still Water Friends,
This Thursday Evening, after our 7:30 sitting, we will continue our exploration of Metta (loving kindness) meditations from the Path of Purification by the fifth century monk Buddhaghosa.
This meditation begins with us focusing on ourselves:
May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love.
May I be able to recognize and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.
May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving, and delusion in myself.
Then, if our meditation has been successful we can repeat the meditation changing the pronoun I for he/she and focus on someone close to us.
The next step is to expand our Metta meditation to those more distant from us, changing the pronoun I for they.
Finally, if our stability and presence is well established, we can work with someone who has hurt us, changing the pronoun I for his or her name.
To a good extent, the three phrases summarize the practice of mindfulness. Below are a few paragraph from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Teaching on Love which relate to each of the phrases.
Beginning this January, in addition to our regular 7:30 Thursday evening gatherings, , we’ve been having a pre-session from 6:30 to 7:20 focused on basic practice. It is a time to ask questions and share experiences concerning conscious breathing, mindful walking, sitting meditation, and mindfulness in daily life. It is small, informal, and open to anyone – with newcomers especially welcomed.
You are invited to join us for the pre-session, the sitting, and the metta meditation practice and discussion.
From Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
"May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love." Again, we begin with ourselves, to understand our own true nature. As long as we reject ourselves, as long as we continue to harm our own body and mind, there is no point in talking about loving and accepting others. With mindfulness, we will be able to recognize our habitual ways of thinking and the contents of our thoughts.
"May I be able to recognize and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself" is an important practice. Our mind is described as the soil containing many seeds, positive and negative. We have to be aware of all of them. When we are in touch with our suffering, we have to know that there are other seeds, too. Our ancestors transmitted seeds of suffering to us, but also seeds of peace, freedom, joy, and happiness. Even if these seeds are buried deep in our consciousness, we can water them and help them grow stronger. Touching the seeds of joy, peace, freedom, solidity, and love within ourselves is an important practice, and we ask our friends to do the same for us. If we love someone, we have to recognize and touch the positive seeds in him every day, and refrain from watering the seeds of anger, despair, and hatred. That will help him grow in the direction of health and happiness.
"May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving, and delusion in myself." "To identify" means to recognize the presence of something. "To see the sources" means to understand its nature - where it came from, what circumstances made it arise, and how long it has been there. This is a process of deep looking.
There are poisons inside us, including craving, anger, and delusion. Craving is the greed that makes us chase after fame, advantage, wealth, and sex. Delusion is ignorance, the lack of understanding. In addition to these three poisons, there are others, including arrogance and suspicion. We have to practice mindfulness in our everyday lives to know craving, anger, and delusion are present in ourselves and to see how much suffering is caused by these poisons (and not just by outside circumstances). The Buddha asked, "How can anger arise in one who has no anger?" The primary cause of anger is the seed of anger in ourselves. Two people might hear the same words and see the same things, yet only one becomes angry. Words and events only stimulate what is inside us. If there were no seeds of anger in our store consciousness, anger could not arise.