Monday, March 11, 2013

Guest author: a faithful reader

From a faithful reader of this blog:


A friend, Bill Kirby, sends out a blog every day...the only blog I've subscribed to.  Much of what he writes relates to his evolving understanding of how to incorporate buddhist (sic) teachings into his life...and he loves to describe the benefits of taking this path.   He's been meditating for 10 minutes a day since some time in the 1980s, initially inspired, I think, by a book, The Relaxation Response.  When he first told me about this practice an internal voice in me said, "Ten minutes?  How could 10 minutes a day have the energy to shift anything at all?"  But he and his wife do 10 minutes every day, and gradually, over time, I realized that since the 1980s he's logged far more time in meditation than I have even though I target 20-40 minutes, always hoping I can increase my capacity to 45 minutes a day and feeling somewhat insipid when I acknowledge the only time I do 45 minutes at a time is at a residential retreat.  But perhaps because Bill and Lynn aspire to do only 10 minutes a day, they're able to do it virtually every day.  Whereas I fall far, far short of my goal to do a minimum of 15 minutes a day, always thinking I should do more to be authentic...Authentic to what I don't exactly know...Authentic to the image of a buddhist monk in Thailand meditating all the day long, only taking time to beg for one meal a day.

Below is what he's pulled together in today's blog about his loving-kindness meditation, or metta-meditation.  Western buddhists, such as Jack Kornfield, realize that a metta practice is very central to any adaptation of buddhism into our United States culture...because we are such outstandingly harsh self-critics...We appear to be especially harsh with ourselves when compared to other cultures where Buddhism is long established.  The Dalai Lama has a very telling story about this...about a time when he knows he very probably inspired a man to commit suicide...or at least contributed to the suicide.

I think you already know the traditional US-approach...Perhaps Jack was your first teacher of metta-meditation?

I was taught by Jennifer, my yoga teacher here for so long, and by my Vipassana teachers, including Jack, to establish a mantra.  The one I remember is:

May I be filled with loving kindness, may I be healthy.

May I be peaceful and at ease, may I be happy.

When the idea is being introduced to a new "class" the loving-kindness-chant is usually said out loud in unison.  Then we're asked to repeat it often enough to ourselves, using first person pronouns, until we've established some sense that what we've asked for is happening, or beginning to happen within our personal self-concept.  After that we shift to putting someone else in the recipients' place...someone very close who we love dearly...I put you and Grandma there.  We wish these same sentiments for those we love, in a personal way, as if we're addressing them directly.  Then we move, gradually, out from that base and direct those same sentiments to dear friends, people we like very much, then to colleagues and people we associate with casually, then to people we don't know but feel neutral toward...and then gradually to people who bring more and more difficulty into our lives.  It's about forgiveness and compassion, first for ourselves because we can't wish this for others if we can't first accept these qualities in ourselves.  It's the opposite of selfish really.  At the end of the progression we go to people who are the most challenging in order to learn true forgiveness and compassion, and then we take it out into the whole wide world...wishing all beings peace and ease.

A highly respected scholar of world religions, Karen Armstrong, recently wrote a book on the premise that it would be instructive if she could find the common principles shared by the world's main religions.  She found they all have one very powerful commonality...the teaching of compassion.

Azay!...  I guess I wanted to reinforce this teaching for, the most lovingly compassionate being I know.  You are my teacher of loving kindness and respect.  So I guess I'm reinforcing the teaching for myself.  Forgive my long-windedness.

May you be filled with loving kindness, may you be healthy.

May you be peaceful and at ease, may you be happy.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby