METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39450

    METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

    Hi Guys,

    A comment by Roky on another thread reminded me that I have been meaning to introduce a touch of "Metta (Loving Kindness) Practice" around here for awhile. Well, now is a good time.

    For those not familiar with the word ...

    Mett? (a word in the ancient Buddhist P?li language) has been translated as "loving-kindness," "benevolence," "good will," "love" and "sympathy." It is one of the ten P?ramit?s (Virtues) of Buddhism. The mett? bh?van? ("cultivation of mett?") is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. The object of mett? meditation is loving kindness (but, of course, without demands or attachment). Traditionally, the practice begins with the meditator cultivating loving kindness towards themselves, then their loved ones, friends, strangers, enemies (perhaps the most difficult part of the practice) and finally towards all sentient beings.
    While I do not intend this to replace our core practice of Shikantaza by any means, I have taught at some Zen Sangha that have well introduced a bit of Metta Practice (we have similar practices in Soto Zen Buddhism, but this really comes from the Vipassana tradition). I think it adds a little something vital to our practice on the "Compassion" side of the equation.

    I might suggest a few minutes of Metta practice as a nice way to end the day before bed (or following the closing of your evening Zazen), perhaps in the form of reciting or chanting the following ... and it is also good during your day when encountering folks who "just tick you off"! :evil:


    (Because we have folks in the Sangha very experienced in this Practice, please offer any insights and comments you can, and we can adjust how we do the following. The following is still in "Beta" version, and I will post the chant as a permanent suggested practice once we get it refined. For reasons of our Soto Practice, I have modified some phrasing to be more embracing of conditions as they are) ...


    To begin, take a few moments to quiet your mind, and focus your attention on the experience and sensations of loving kindness. You will begin by offering Metta to yourself. If distracting thoughts arise, acknowledge them, let them pass, and return to your Metta practice much as in Shikantaza. While reciting, try to maintain the experience and sensation of loving kindness to the people and other beings mentioned.

    1. May I feel safe and free of enmity.

    2. May I be peaceful and content.

    3. May I be healthy or at ease in my ills.

    4. May I have ease of well being, and accept all the conditions of the world.


    Next, repeat the chant with a specific close loved one in mind ...

    1. May she(he) feel safe and free of enmity.

    2. May she feel peaceful and content.

    3. May she be healthy or at ease in her ills.

    4. May she have ease of well being, and accept all the conditions of the world.


    Then, repeat in succession for a specific close friend, a specific neutral person (someone you neither like nor dislike), a difficult person (no need to start with the most difficult person, but someone whom you have a distaste for ... However, it is a good practice to add true enemies or hateful individuals), then all beings:

    1. May they feel safe and free of enmity.

    2. May they feel peaceful and content.

    3. May they be healthy or at ease in their ills.

    4. May they have ease of well being, and accept all the conditions of the world.
    I do not want to say it is a "prayer" or not (most folks hanging around Treeleaf long enough know that I am an open minded agnostic who "winks" at heaven ... just in case :wink: ) ... or it may be just our aspiration for a better world. We can leave it at that, for that is enough.

    What do you think?

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Longdog
    Member
    • Nov 2007
    • 448

    #2
    Re: METTA PRACTICE

    Seems fine to me

    Long ago I did this when I went to some Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO) retreats, but we did it for the full meditation period. Personally I like the idea of it being a shorter stand alone practise as you suggest.

    In gassho, Kev
    [url:x8wstd0h]http://moder-dye.blogspot.com/[/url:x8wstd0h]

    Comment

    • disastermouse

      #3
      Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

      It's odd that this is coming up just as I was thinking of adding this to my practice. Thank you, Jundo!

      Comment

      • roky
        Member
        • Jul 2008
        • 311

        #4
        Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

        thanks much, jundo

        my first teacher was into no goals, no focus, but he made an exception for metta -- he felt a boost was needed to counteract the effect of "negative" conditioning, "closing of the heart" -- so he felt it was a bit of cheating, but recommended it anyway-- and no "buts" -- you just send out the love, and let it go, light on the conceptualization

        at the very least, i've found it is a good "thermometer" -- last time i did a long retreat, it was almost 2 weeks before i could send metta to myself -- and way back, it was a looooooong time before i could send it to my mom

        some folks have a lot of trouble with sending it to their "self" -- with this, and any difficult subjects, it seems to help to visualize the person's face, in a happy state-- for the real bad guys, even see them at an early age(baby adolf!!!?? - whoa!)
        and it can be very simple, say,"may jundo be free from his troubles, may he live happily" -- staying with it a bit, finding that warm spot in the heart, moving on to the next person -- eventually being able to do it for "all beings" -- and some folks need to change the order around, whatever works -- i definitely can't do my self first -- and see the rationalization, like, "wait, i cant love adolf, he's too bad"

        i think stephen levine, among others, did a good job with it -- think he said something about loving yourself as you would your only child

        and yes, this can be done overboard -- but i think shikantaza practice will counteract that tendency " -- without the balance, the metta can become "forced", not genuine, a bit like another drug -- it should be used to bring the person back to a healthy state, not to keep going off into bliss land -- but for anyone feeling very closed down, that is not a concern

        i think it should be used like medicine -- too much of even a good medicine is not healthy, just like not taking medicine when you need it can jeopardize wellness -- in my own practice, its not like a vitamin to be taken indefinitely -- but it is another way of finding out "what you're up to", how closed down you've become -- again -- and giving it a gentle nudge in the other direction

        gassho, bob
        "no resistance"
        thaddeus golas

        Comment

        • TracyF
          Member
          • Nov 2007
          • 188

          #5
          Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

          Oh Jundo, you are a man after my own heart. *sniff*

          I've been doing metta before shikantaza. But I don't sit on the zafu while I'm doing it because I kind of like to keep them separate (sometimes I metta while I'm doing kinhin or just sitting on a chair or bed). I don't care what anyone says, metta-karuna is the main point of practice for me. I could care less about "enlightenment". Then top it off with some Bodhisattva vows and I'm ready for bed.

          My practice 'chant' or 'prayer', if you will, is similar to what you posted, Jundo, except I end with "may I take care of myself happily". Then when I add other people I end that part with "may we take care of ourselves happily". I DON'T CARE IF IT'S CORNY! :mrgreen: I do kind of like your's better.

          I think it works great with Shikantaza because getting too much into metta is a sort of attachment or delusion. On the other hand, practice with no metta seems...empty ( :wink: ) to me.

          Comment

          • Shugen
            Treeleaf Unsui
            • Nov 2007
            • 4535

            #6
            Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

            I'll give it a try.

            Ron
            Meido Shugen
            明道 修眼

            Comment

            • Kent
              Member
              • Feb 2008
              • 193

              #7
              Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

              I was not familiar with this practice, it would seem to be a wonderful addition to our Shikantaza. Thank you Jundo Gassho Kent

              Comment

              • Shohei
                Member
                • Oct 2007
                • 2854

                #8
                Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

                Before i started here i used to do Vipassana style stuffs. I still do this from time to time as it is - on a sort of as needed basis ops:
                not while "just sitting" but before hand. I think its a fine idea, so long as it makes your "belly warm"- non-do it! If it really doesn't feel right then toss it to the curb with trash. I know I have heard that somewheres...

                with much Metta and a deep Gassho, Dirk

                Comment

                • Stephanie

                  #9
                  Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

                  I find that the practice of mudita, or sympathetic joy, is a very nice complement to metta practice. (Though I think it's somewhat false to say these are different practices, instead of aspects of one single practice.) Just taking notice of the joy of others around you and letting it into your heart, it makes it easier to love. I like doing this on the train. Some kid giggling, or someone drunkenly singing, or any number of odd things, become so contagious, and the love just flows. Of course compassion is the other "bookend" to metta--opening oneself to the pain of others. It can hurt, but it can also be an even more powerful way to open the heart than sympathetic joy. I tend to start with mudita because I find that one the easiest, especially on hard days. And if I can get that going, the other stuff comes too, eventually.

                  Comment

                  • wu_wei

                    #10
                    Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

                    In my family, we have been doing a very simple metta practice with our daughter since she was 3 or 4. Every night, when we put her to bed, we say the following:

                    "I love myself,
                    May I be healthy, happy, and peaceful inside.
                    I spread this loving-kindness out;
                    May Mommy and Daddy,
                    Grandmas and Grandpas,
                    Aunties and Uncles,
                    Cousins, friends, and everyone else
                    be healthy, happy, and peaceful inside.
                    I am thankful for them all, and all that I have."

                    My wife put this together, and I find it is a nice way to end the evening, and it is a form of metta practice that even a child can understand.

                    Feel free to borrow/expand on it, if you like.

                    Gassho,

                    Leland

                    Comment

                    • Jinho

                      #11
                      Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

                      Greetings Jundo!

                      I think this is great. Sometimes one needs a more forceful action to improve one's orientation.

                      gassho,
                      rowan
                      who loves sitting along with Jundo

                      Comment

                      • robert
                        Member
                        • Aug 2008
                        • 88

                        #12
                        Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

                        Hi Jundo... I'm very glad to begin doing this -- became interested in metta practice a few months ago but couldn't find a way into it on my own.

                        Gassho,
                        Rob
                        Robert's website

                        Comment

                        • lindabeekeeper
                          Member
                          • Jan 2008
                          • 162

                          #13
                          Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

                          Hi all,

                          I find that it is a good practice for some work situations, too. You know, the one where the very irritating customer or coworker shows up at your door. It has helped me find folks to be a lot less irritating over time.

                          Gassho,

                          Linda

                          Comment

                          • roky
                            Member
                            • Jul 2008
                            • 311

                            #14
                            Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

                            steph - sounds like you have more experience with metta practice than i do -- hope it helps some

                            gassho, bob
                            "no resistance"
                            thaddeus golas

                            Comment

                            • ScottyDoo
                              Member
                              • Aug 2008
                              • 55

                              #15
                              Re: METTA PRACTICE (BETA VERSION)

                              Being a huge fan of Pema Chodron, I've been familiar with this for some time now, though have been havig a somewhat difficult time actually putting it into practice. Another she teaches which I enjoy and that I have had interesting experiences with is Tonglen.

                              Thanks Jundo!
                              ScottyDoo - The Lazy Buddhist

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