Gentle Friendship to Yourself and Your World
The Pali word for loving kindness is Metta which has two definitions: one is gentle and the other one is friend. To express Metta or loving kindness in your life is to express gentle friendship toward yourself and the world around you. When we say the Metta prayer at the end of each meditation, we are expressing our gentle friendship toward ourselves and others; we are cultivating our loving kindness.
I see this practice as the purest form of meditation; it is a direct expression of the truest form of love. Its immeasurable quality has no boundaries or limits, we can offer our loving friendship to the entire world. No matter who we are, no matter where we are, no matter what the world is doing, we know what we are doing, we are being vessels of loving kindness and we are offering that loving kindness to the world.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire, universe deserve your love and affection. —The Buddha”
Cultivating the limitless quality of loving kindness
It starts with yourself. Your first Metta prayer begins with it’s being directed toward yourself. You need to start with what’s most familiar – yourself. You find loving kindness in the places within you where it already exists and then you expand on it. It’s in your ability to feel good will toward others and in your appreciation for what others say and do. Any act of kindness shown to you is an opportunity to cultivate it and show it back to others.
You find it in your ability to find the inner strength you need to allow yourself to feel vulnerable. In your own loneliness and your empathy toward the loneliness of others.
The more you are willing to put your fears aside and openly express loving kindness, the more you have confidence in its power and your ability to express it. You soon realize that your capacity to love is always in tact no matter what you have experienced in the past.
No matter what mistakes you have made, what pain you might have caused or been responsible for, no matter how many times you’ve been caught up in reacting negatively or in a bad way toward others, no matter how much you personally have suffered.
Through practicing Metta and meditation in your daily lives, you continue to grow and cultivate loving kindness. Your practice builds courage and self-confidence.
It is always a source of personal joy. It increases self-respect, as well as respect for others. To practice loving kindness is to live harmoniously in the world and then your life becomes a vehicle for peace. Through the practice of loving kindness, you are blessed with the gift of happiness and the confidence of knowing how to be truly happy. You know what path to take. By taking this path, these rich blessings are attained freely and naturally.
About the author: Donald Francis is a meditation teacher and freelance writer. Incorporates art, music, poetry and literature into his teaching and makes meditation interesting and relevant to everyone. He lives in London, England.
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