Loving-kindness might come easy or even natural to some people. It’s a kind of love without attachment or clinging. It’s the unselfish act of treating everyone with loving-kindness, friendliness, kindness, and compassion. Mettã Bhavana is the cultivation (or meditation) of loving-kindess. It’s the way for it to grow strong, powerful, and useful, because it brings us and everyone else deep and intense peace and happiness.
Mettã is also the strong wish for the happiness of others. For us, it also shows patience, appreciation, compassion, and receptiveness. It shows the caring for the well-being of all sentient beings. By practicing and truly holding loving-kindness, others’ happiness will also bring us happiness and joy.
There are a few different methods to meditate on Mettã. One of the more common ways is to think of one’s self, a loved one (family, friends), a neutral person (the banker, cashier), and a foe (or someone you dislike or hate). While meditating on each person, you can say something like:
May I (s/he) be free from enmity/danger
May I (s/he) be free from mental suffering
May I (s/he) be free from physical suffering
May I (s/he) take care of myself (her/himself) happily
Or you can say the form from the Cunda Kammaraputta Sutta:
May these beings be
free from animosity,
free from oppression,
free from trouble,
and may they look after
themselves with ease!
Regardless of what way or form you say it, do it! It’s important to have loving-kindness. Not just for others, but for yourself as well. It helps us overcome anger, gives us concentration, and for a healthy relationship with every sentient being.
I deal with people on a daily basis, and at least 50% of them are rude, in a bad mood, or just stupid! A couple of years ago, anyone that was rude to me, I was rude right back! My mouth was quicker than my thoughts! Sure it got me in trouble, but at the time I thought it was worth it. But what did that prove? What did me mouthing off at them do? Nothing for me, and surely just gave the person what they were probably after: attention and feeling noticed. What does loving-kindness do? It gives you mindfulness and concentration. It gives you the power to show patience and respect even in heated moments. It shows that their anger, hostility, and probably direct attempt to ruin your mood isn’t even going to be noticed because of your radient loving-kindess.
A few weeks ago I was at a gas station getting gas after I was leaving temple. As I was filling up, this older man in an old, beat up car slowly walked over and gave me this litte story how he was just trying to get down the road to the hospital to see his mother and was wondering if I had two or three dollars to spare for gas. So I went over to his pump and swiped my card. “Four dollars?” he said. I smiled and bowed my head in agreement. The man put in exactly four dollars. He thanked me at least a dozen times, and I simply just put my palms together and bowed.
Once he left, a man at the pump directly next to mine asked me why I gave him money! I was shocked as to why he even cared or if that somehow bothered him. “He could of done anything with that money,” he said. “Sir, I don’t care what he does with the money. I used my card anyway. He only asked for four dollars and he seemed sincere. Why should I say no if I don’t have to?” I replied. He then said, “Well I guess if you have the money!” As I gave him a face I replied, “Sir, by no means do I have ample amounts of money. If you were ever a college student, maybe you’d know how it feels to ever have any extra cash. But when someone’s in need of something as simple as four dollars and if I’m able to give it, then I will.”
Moral of the story: Loving-kindess can happen in many different ways. It’s important to cultivate it, use it, and spread it to others. Even though the second man asked and argued with what I did, I’d hope I at least set an example. Saying and thinking about loving-kindess is easier than doing it. Loving-kindness isn’t just something you can do for part of the day until someone really pisses you off or puts you in a bad mood. No! Use that to meditate on loving-kindess and release those negative feelings. Show other’s your compassion and understanding, and show them their negativity won’t harm you or your karma!
Smile and be well!