Peacefulness on Earth....Good Will Toward Everybody

by Karen Kisslinger, The Huffington Post, December 18, 2007

New York, USA -- We are in the time of year when many people feel that they are supposed to feel cheerful and even happy, but often don't. In addition to their everyday pressures, many people feel under even more pressure of time, money, relationships, diets and other manner of obligations and deadlines. Trying to avoid getting sick and depressed, what do people really need, right here, right now?

I think many people would say the same thing. First a universal and timeless hope for more peacefulness... honesty, fairness, justice....... on earth...and more time, and a feeling of being taken care of at least part of the time. The quality that people seem to be needing is kindness, and without doubt more kindness would bring more peacefulness on earth. This is a basic issue for personal health and planetary health. It goes without saying, but where is the kindness going to come from?

The Dalai Llama has said that his religion is "kindness". Watching recent world events, it's easy to become uncomfortably aware that a lot of people today don't seem to capable of kindness in the universal, all inclusive, non- exclusive, extended-to-everybody sense. So, with good intentions for the health and happiness of all, I offer up instruction in the essentials of the meditation practice of "loving kindness"or, as it is traditionally called: "metta".

Though "metta" practice originated in the Buddhist tradition, it is a universally applicable practice which can deepen every person's connection with their own spiritual or religious tradition, as well as with their families, friends and co-workers. It is a practice which does not conflict with, but only compliments and enhances whatever tradition or practice each person has been raised in or is used to.

To begin, we start with ourselves. We can't really extend loving-kindness to anyone else if we can't extend it to ourselves. In using the following phrases, don't think about what they mean or how difficult or problematic they are (like what is happiness or peace anyway???); just go with the intention and simple idealistic feeling of the words...the energy of it. We choose phrases, or greetings, such as:

"May I be happy, and know that it is right for me to want to be happy";

"May I be at ease."

"May I feel surrounded by safety and abundance"

"May I happily take care of myself."

"May I be free of suffering."

"May I know ease of well-being."

"May I be at peace."

I use phrases for this practice which I think are less likely than others to elicit sentimental attachments in the practitioner.

Start with Yourself: Using the above phrases, or any others that strike you as "just right" for you, right now, sit quietly and repeat the phrases to yourself quietly for a couple of minutes, or more if you take the time. In some retreat settings, the participants will do metta to themselves, and subsequently each recipient, for a whole day (or more) before moving on to others.

Choose a benefactor: a positive, beloved, person in your life. Holding that person in your awareness, extend your greetings or phrases to that person.

*May that person (say their name to yourself...picture them, embody them being happy and at peace!) be happy and know that it is right for them to want to be happy.

*May _____ be at ease.

*May __________ be free of suffering

*May _______ happily take care of him/herself;

*May _________ feel surrounded by abundance and safe

*May _________ know ease of well being

May __________ be at peace.

Again, spend a couple of minutes, or more, extending these greetings of loving-kindness to that person.

*Choose a so-called neutral person: someone with whom we have no particular relationship; someone we may have seen in passing on the way to work or town. Holding that person in your attention, you repeat the same phrases: slowly, generously and genuinely extending intentions of loving kindness.

Use the same phrases as above for as long as you like

*Choose a difficult person: or problematic person. Before we start here, we recognize that if that difficult person, who has caused us sorrow or pain, were happy, at ease, at peace and free from would be a good thing! ( This works on a global scale too!) So we can genuinely offer intentions of loving kindness to such a person. For a few minutes, or more, extend the same greetings or phrases to the difficult person:

Use the same phrases as above for as long as you like. Add any that feel important for your practice for this person. Imagine that person truly happy, at ease, at peace.

*Come back to yourself: Repeat the phrases for yourself one more time, and then extend a few of them out as far into the room, the building, and the world as you comfortably can right now, and then back to yourself to end...{May I be at ease, May I be at peace)

Feel the genuine intention extended toward each of these people. Repeatedly doing this practice helps replace old reaction patterns and habits with new more positive intentions and attitudes. We can find ourselves truly feeling intentions of loving-kindness more and more of the time. Here's an end to road rage. Here's a lessening of cynicism. You can seek more in-depth explanations and more complicated instructions for this practice, but I've given you the basics. I used to say to my kids that this practice can help us "love" even the people we "don't like"....but it's a different experience of "love" than the more exclusive variety we often feel.

If, as we say, we want peace, we have to start with peacefulness and kindness in each person, and that takes practice. "Metta" practice has helped many people start to feel the possibilities, the wonder and even the radiance of truly intending loving-kindness to all. At the same time, people often find themselves in situations where they can lessen harm and suffering by correctly protecting themselves and others when they are challenged with actions which are not based on kindness and tolerance.

May you be happy and know that it is right for you to want to be happy; may you be at ease; may you happily take care of yourself; may you be free of suffering; may you know ease of well being; may you be at peace, and may we all know peacefulness on earth.

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