The ‘why’ of Metta

In several recent gatherings we have focused on the practice of metta or “loving-kindness” with a focus on the “how” of the practice; the phrases one uses, for example, or the order of each of the subjects.  This Sunday we again considered metta, this time focusing on the “why”, that is, metta as an integral part of insight practice, and not just a sort of extra activity added to vipassana. Specifically we looked at metta practice as an antidote to ill will and aversion, and the relation to the arising of self. Margaret skillfully guided the discussion, drawing on a talk by Christina Feldman.

For those unfamiliar with metta practice or desiring a refresher, Margaret provided this short guided meditation by Chas DiCapua.

Christina’s talk is available here:

Margaret also sent along several quotes related to metta, included below.

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

Shoulders, Naomi Shihab Nye – 1952

All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

“You owe me.”

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.”