Sunday, July 24, 2011

Metta Meditation

May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I live my live with ease.
May I be at peace.

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you live your live with ease.
May you be at peace.

This was my offering of metta mediation for this week's classes.  Metta can be translated as loving kindness or compassion.  I share this Buddhist practice to deepen our study of Ahimsa (non-violence/compassion) from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. There are many versions of the metta meditation.  I consider our chant, Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu, to be one of them.  I have shared other versions in the past and will share them here eventually.  Perhaps you might feel inspired to create your own.

We learn, in the Buddhist tradition, to begin the metta meditation with ourselves so that we cultivate our own inner peace and freedom since only then can we be a light to others.  The next step is to offer the wishes to our beloveds, then to those who are neutral to us, and finally those who have caused us harm.  It may feel quite easy to send the wishes to your loved ones.  Your heart will sing and dance as you send them this love.  For those neutral to you, you might like to think of others in the world who are just like you, trying to find happiness in their daily lives.  You can send the wishes to the service people you come in contact with throughout your day:  the gas pump attendant, grocery store clerk, bank teller, person driving in the car ahead of you or sitting on the train next to you.

Sending the wishes to those who have caused us harm may be more difficult.  However, it can be a very helpful and liberating practice.  We can start with the mildest harm if we aren't ready to face the more difficult ones.  We approach this by understanding that people often cause harm to others when they are fearful or hurting as an unskillful way of expressing themselves (ourselves).  We do this practice knowing that we have also caused harm to others.  And, we hope they will forgive us for our shortcomings.  That we will forgive ourselves for our own shortcomings.  We send these wishes to those who cause harm and terror in the world in hopes that they will find freedom from their suffering and stop hurting others.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes a beautiful poem for us to see our interbeing with all, to soften our hearts with compassion for all.  We are reminded, "There, but for the grace of god, go I."  We can be thankful for our resources, our teachers, our life circumstances that provide us with the tools we need to transform our suffering, to make good choices, and live a good life.  We also become thankful for the difficult experiences we have lived through that teach us to appreciate how amazing all the wonders of life truly are since we have seen the other side.  May we keep reminding each other with loving kindness.

Please Call Me By My True Names  by Thich Nhat Hanh

Don't say that I will depart tomorrow--
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring  branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all this is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am a frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his "debt of blood" to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up
and the door of my heart
could be left open,
the door of compassion.

(from the book Call Me By My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh)

1 comment:

  1. There is a lot to think about in Please Call Me By my True Names by Thich Nhat Hanh.