A comment by Roky on another thread reminded me that I have been meaning to introduce a touch of "Metta (Loving Kindness) Practice" around here for awhile. Well, now is a good time.
For those not familiar with the word ...
While I do not intend this to replace our core practice of Shikantaza by any means, I have taught at some Zen Sangha that have well introduced a bit of Metta Practice (we have similar practices in Soto Zen Buddhism, but this really comes from the Vipassana tradition). I think it adds a little something vital to our practice on the "Compassion" side of the equation.Mett? (a word in the ancient Buddhist P?li language) has been translated as "loving-kindness," "benevolence," "good will," "love" and "sympathy." It is one of the ten P?ramit?s (Virtues) of Buddhism. The mett? bh?van? ("cultivation of mett?") is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. The object of mett? meditation is loving kindness (but, of course, without demands or attachment). Traditionally, the practice begins with the meditator cultivating loving kindness towards themselves, then their loved ones, friends, strangers, enemies (perhaps the most difficult part of the practice) and finally towards all sentient beings.
I might suggest a few minutes of Metta practice as a nice way to end the day before bed (or following the closing of your evening Zazen), perhaps in the form of reciting or chanting the following ... and it is also good during your day when encountering folks who "just tick you off"! :evil:
(Because we have folks in the Sangha very experienced in this Practice, please offer any insights and comments you can, and we can adjust how we do the following. The following is still in "Beta" version, and I will post the chant as a permanent suggested practice once we get it refined. For reasons of our Soto Practice, I have modified some phrasing to be more embracing of conditions as they are) ...
I do not want to say it is a "prayer" or not (most folks hanging around Treeleaf long enough know that I am an open minded agnostic who "winks" at heaven ... just in case :wink: ) ... or it may be just our aspiration for a better world. We can leave it at that, for that is enough.To begin, take a few moments to quiet your mind, and focus your attention on the experience and sensations of loving kindness. You will begin by offering Metta to yourself. If distracting thoughts arise, acknowledge them, let them pass, and return to your Metta practice much as in Shikantaza. While reciting, try to maintain the experience and sensation of loving kindness to the people and other beings mentioned.
1. May I feel safe and free of enmity.
2. May I be peaceful and content.
3. May I be healthy or at ease in my ills.
4. May I have ease of well being, and accept all the conditions of the world.
Next, repeat the chant with a specific close loved one in mind ...
1. May she(he) feel safe and free of enmity.
2. May she feel peaceful and content.
3. May she be healthy or at ease in her ills.
4. May she have ease of well being, and accept all the conditions of the world.
Then, repeat in succession for a specific close friend, a specific neutral person (someone you neither like nor dislike), a difficult person (no need to start with the most difficult person, but someone whom you have a distaste for ... However, it is a good practice to add true enemies or hateful individuals), then all beings:
1. May they feel safe and free of enmity.
2. May they feel peaceful and content.
3. May they be healthy or at ease in their ills.
4. May they have ease of well being, and accept all the conditions of the world.
What do you think?