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Thread: RECOMMENDED DAILY Metta PRACTICE

  1. #1

    RECOMMENDED DAILY Metta PRACTICE

    Hi,

    Our core practice is always Zazen ... "Just Sitting" Shikantaza Zazen.

    But I wish to introduce a touch of "Metta (Loving Kindness) Practice" as well (many Zen teachers have done so), and I recommend it once a day at least. It can also be done at any time when, for example, some feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy or the like start to well up in us directed at a fellow sentient being. A bit of Metta can be good medicine for that.

    While I do not intend this to replace our core practice of Shikantaza by any means, I have taught at various Zen Sangha that have well introduced a bit of Metta Practice. I think it adds a little something vital to our practice on the "Compassion" side of the equation.

    For those not familiar with the term ...

    Metta (a word in the ancient Buddhist Pali language) has been translated as "loving-kindness," "benevolence," "good will," "love" and "sympathy." It is one of the ten Paramitas (Virtues) of Buddhism. The metta bhavana ("cultivation of metta") is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. The object of metta 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, for example, at the closing of your evening Zazen). Perhaps just before turning into bed for the night, or right after finishing your evening Zazen (and before rising from the Zafu), you might recite or chant the following ... (and, as stated, it is also good during your day when encountering folks who "just plain get your goat"!

    (Note that, for reasons of our Soto Practice, I have modified some phrasing common to other traditions to be more embracing of conditions 'as they are'. For example, we should aspire for people to be healthy as well as "at ease in all their ills", not merely the former.)

    To begin, take a moment to quiet your mind, and focus your attention on recalling the experience and sensation of loving kindness. Try to summon such feelings within, and hold them throughout your sincere reciting of the following. Try smiling gently, and mean it. That simple step really does something to put us in the right frame of mind.

    You will then begin by offering Metta to yourself. If distracting thoughts arise, acknowledge them, let them pass, and return to your Metta practice from there, again and again, just as in Shikantaza. While reciting, try to maintain the experience and sensation of loving kindness to the beings mentioned. Note that the word "suffering" in the following refers to the Buddhist idea of Dukkha (see this talk on the Four Noble Truths for an explanation: http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...y-Dooby-Dukkha)

    1. May I be free of suffering; may I feel safe and still.

    2. May I be free of enmity; may I be loving, grateful and kind.

    3. May I be healthy and at ease in all my ills.

    4. May I be at peace, embracing all conditions of life.


    Next, repeat the chant with a specific close loved one in mind ...

    1. May he(she) be free of suffering; may he(she) feel safe and still.

    2. May he(she) be free of enmity; may he(she) be loving, grateful and kind.

    3. May he(she) be healthy and at ease in all his(her) ills.

    4. May he(she) be at peace, embracing all conditions of life


    Then, repeat the above in succession for a specific close friend, a specific neutral person (someone you neither like nor dislike), and then 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 focus on true enemies or hateful individuals. That is perhaps the most valuable and difficult practice of all).

    Close with all beings:

    1. May we be free of suffering; may we feel safe and still.

    2. May we be free of enmity; may we be loving, grateful and kind.

    3. May we be healthy and at ease in all our ills.

    4. May we be at peace, embracing all conditions of life
    It can be said to oneself, out loud or inwardly. It can be spoken, and need not be sung or chanted. It need not be considered a "prayer" to some force outside us (we will leave that to silence), and can be thought of as simply our aspiration for a better world for all living beings. Truly, 'inside' and 'outside' are not two, and one can effect and greatly change the other.

    We practiced this as a regular part of our monthly Zazenkai.

    May there be much Metta for all of you in our Sangha.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-15-2013 at 04:46 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: RECOMMENDED DAILY Metta PRACTICE

    The follow essays by the Venerable Narada Mahathera, the late Theravadan teacher from Sri Lanka ...

    http://www.buddhistvihara.com/newsle...maha_thera.htm

    ... really brings aspects of Metta (Loving Kindness) Practice to life, and is a good guide for how it should be undertaken. I wish to share parts of that ...

    1. METTA

    The first Sublime State is Metta (Samskrit-Maitri). It means that which softens one's heart, or the state of a true friend. It is defined as the sincere wish for the welfare and genuine happiness of all living beings without exception. It is also explained as the friendly disposition, for a genuine friend sincerely wishes for the welfare of his friend.

    "Just as a mother protects her only child even at the risk of her life, even so one should cultivate boundless loving-kindness towards all living beings" is the advice of the Buddha.

    It is not the passionate love of the mother towards her child that is stressed here but her sincere wish for the genuine welfare of her child.

    Metta is neither carnal love nor personal affection, for grief inevitably arises from both.

    Metta is not mere neighbourliness, for it makes no distinction between neighbours and others.

    Metta is not mere universal brotherhood, for it embraces all living beings including animals, our lesser brethren and sisters that need greater compassion as they are helpless.

    Metta is not political brotherhood or racial brotherhood, or national brotherhood, or even religious brotherhood.

    Political brotherhood is confined only to those who share similar political views, such as the partial brotherhood of Democrats, Socialists, Communists, and so forth.

    Racial brotherhood and national brotherhood are restricted only to those of the same race and nation. Some nationalists love their race so much that sometimes they ruthlessly kill innocent men, women and children because they unfortunately are not blessed with blond hair and blue eyes. The white races have particular love for the white skin, the black for the black, the yellow for the yellow, the brown for the brown, the pale for the pale, the red for the red. Others of a different complexion are at times viewed with suspicion and fear. Very often to assert their racial superiority they resort to brutal warfare, killing millions by mercilessly raining bombs from the sky above. The pathetic incidents of the Second World War are striking examples which can never be forgotten by mankind.

    Amongst some narrow-minded peoples, within the wider circle of their ancient nations, there exist minor circles of caste and class where the so-called brotherhood of the powerful oppressors is so limited that the oppressed are not even permitted to enjoy bare human rights merely because of the accidents of birth or class. These oppressors are to be pitied because they are confined to their water-tight compartments.

    Metta is not religious brotherhood either. Owing to the sad limitations of so-called religious brotherhood human heads have been severed without the least compunction, sincere outspoken men and women have been roasted and burnt alive; many atrocities have been perpetrated which baffle description; cruel wars have been waged which mar the pages of world history. Even in this supposedly enlightened twentieth century the followers of one religion hate or ruthlessly persecute and even kill those of other faiths merely because they cannot force them to think as they do or because they have a different label.

    If, on account of religious views, people of different faiths cannot meet on a common platform like brothers and sisters, then surely the missions of compassionate world teachers have pitifully failed.

    Sweet metta transcends all these kinds of narrow brotherhood. It is limitless in scope and range. Barriers it has none. Discrimination it makes not. Metta enables one to regard the whole world as one's motherland and all as fellow beings.

    Just as the sun sheds its rays on all without any distinction, even so sublime metta bestows its sweet blessings equally on the pleasant and the unpleasant, on the rich and the poor, on the high and the low, on the vicious and the virtuous, on man and woman, and on human and animal.

    Such was the boundless Metta of the Buddha who worked for the welfare and happiness of those who loved Him as well as of those who hated Him and even attempted to harm and kill Him.

    The Buddha exercised metta equally towards His own son Rahula, His adversary Devadatta, His attendant Ananda, His admirers and His opponents.

    This loving-kindness should be extended in equal measure towards oneself as towards friend, foe and neutral alike. Suppose a bandit were to approach a person travelling through a forest with an intimate friend, a neutral person and an enemy, and suppose he were to demand that one of them be offered as a victim. If the traveller were to say that he himself should be taken, then he would have no metta towards himself. If he were to say that anyone of the other three persons should be taken, then he would have no mett? towards them.

    Such is the characteristic of real metta. In exercising this boundless loving-kindness oneself should not be ignored. This subtle point should not be misunderstood, for self-sacrifice is another sweet virtue and egolessness is yet another higher virtue. The culmination of this metta is the identification of oneself with all beings (sabbattata), making no difference between oneself and others. The so-called "I" is lost in the whole. Separatism evaporates. Oneness is realized.

    There is no proper English equivalent for this graceful Pali term Metta. Goodwill, loving-kindness, benevolence and universal love are suggested as the best renderings.

    The antithesis of metta is anger, ill-will, hatred, or aversion. Metta cannot co-exist with anger or vengeful conduct. The Buddha states:

    "Hatreds do not cease through hatreds:
    through love alone they cease. [1]"

    Metta not only tends to conquer anger but also does not tolerate hateful thoughts towards others. He who has metta never thinks of harming others, nor does he disparage or condemn others. Such a person is neither afraid of others nor does he instill fear into any.

    A subtle indirect enemy assails metta in the guise of a friend. It is selfish affection (pema), for unguarded metta may sometimes be assailed by lust. This indirect enemy resembles a person who lurks afar in the jungles or hills to cause harm to another. Grief springs from affection but not from metta.

    This delicate point should not be misunderstood. Parents surely cannot avoid having affection towards their children and children towards their parents; husbands towards their wives and wives towards their husbands. Such affection is quite natural. The world cannot exist without mutual affection. The point to be clarified here is that unselfish mett? is not synonymous with ordinary affection.

    A benevolent attitude is the chief characteristic of metta. He who practises metta is constantly interested in promoting the welfare of others. He seeks the good and beautiful in all but not the ugliness in others.

    ---

    How to Practise Metta

    A few practical hints are given below to practise this meditation on loving-kindness.

    Metta should be practised first towards oneself. In doing so a person should charge his mind and body with positive thoughts of peace and happiness. He should think how he could be peaceful, happy, free from suffering, worry and anger. He then becomes the embodiment of loving-kindness.

    Shielded by loving-kindness, he cuts off all hostile vibrations and negative thoughts. He returns good for evil, love for anger. He becomes ever tolerant and tries his best not to give occasion for anger to any. Himself beaming with happiness, he injects happiness into others not only inwardly but also outwardly by putting his metta into practice in the course of his daily life.

    When he is full of peace and is free from thoughts of hatred, it is easy for him to radiate loving-kindness towards others. What he does not possess he cannot give to others. Before he tries to make others happy he should first be happy himself. He should know the ways and means to make himself happy.

    He now radiates his loving-kindness towards all his near and dear ones individually and collectively, wishing them peace and happiness and freedom from suffering, disease, worry and anger.

    Diffusing his thoughts of loving-kindness towards his relatives and friends, he radiates them also towards neutrals. Just as he wishes for the peace and happiness of himself and of his near and dear ones, even so he sincerely wishes for the peace and happiness of those who are neutral to him, wishing them freedom from suffering, disease, worry and anger. Finally, though this is somewhat difficult, he should radiate his mett? in the same way towards those (if any) who are inimical to him. If, by practising metta, he could adopt a friendly attitude towards those thought to be inimical towards him, his achievement would be more heroic and commendable. As the Buddha advises --"Amidst those who hate let him live free from hatred."

    Starting from himself he should gradually extend his metta towards all beings, irrespective of creed, race, colour, or sex, including dumb animals, until he has identified himself with all, making no distinction whatever. He merges himself in the whole universe and is one with all. He is no more dominated by egoistic feelings. He transcends all forms of separatism. No longer confining himself to water-tight compartments, no longer influenced by caste, class, national, racial, or religious prejudices, he can regard the whole world as his motherland and all as fellow beings in the ocean of life.
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-25-2013 at 02:53 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Thank you for this Jundo! This seems like it would be a great way to find peace, and to begin turn my hatred into love and compassion. I'm going to print out the chant and get familiar with it.

    Gassho,
    John

  4. #4
    Thank you Jundo ... I agree. I actually do my metta practice during my evening zazen, I use it for reflection on the day as well.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi Jundo,
    When I started to sit with the FWBO we were taught Metta Bhavana practice, along with mindfulness. I agree that it is a very great and powerful practice. I think it is something that can help strengthen our vow to keep the precepts and liberate us from fear and anger. And that can't be bad.
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Thank you Jundo ... I agree. I actually do my metta practice during my evening zazen, I use it for reflection on the day as well.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    Just for the understanding of newcomers, and to clear things up, you mean you do it before our after seated Zazen, because when sitting Zazen there is only sitting Zazen ... and even though Zazen has no "before" or "after" and everything in life is Zazen! ... and even though ultimately there is no you, no one in need of Metta, and only Buddha sitting Zazen ...

    Gee, sometimes to "clear things up", you have to first make a mess of things!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Just for the understanding of newcomers, and to clear things up, you mean you do it before our after seated Zazen, because when sitting Zazen there is only sitting Zazen ... and even though Zazen has no "before" or "after" and everything in life is Zazen! ... and even though ultimately there is no you, no one in need of Metta, and only Buddha sitting Zazen ...

    Gee, sometimes to "clear things up", you have to first make a mess of things!

    Gassho, J
    Thanks Jundo, my bad ... I do it after I have finished my zazen.

    Guess my fingers were doing zazen while my brain was responding to the thread.

    Thanks for catching that.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    This is a great nightly practice. I feel through doing this we dissolve the sensitive friction between one who is a perceived enemy to us and one who is a friend. To some extent, they become just people.

    With metta,
    Alex

  9. #9
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    Metta softens and stabilizes my heart, it opens up joy and equanimity, sits like a rock that is ancient and sturdy and takes me into it..embracing and nameless..and it goes on..and on..

  10. #10
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    I have been practicing metta for quite awhile now, and I can honestly say, it has changed me for the better in so many ways.

  11. #11
    Junior Member Maresolaris's Avatar
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    Dear Jundo,
    Pointing out the effects of metta (bhavana) and its soto adaptation comes as very helpful to me. Thank you very much!

    Gassho _/|\_
    Marcel Berkien
    --
    Sarva mangalam.

  12. #12
    Member Jamie's Avatar
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    Thanks for this Jundo, I will try it out

    Jamie

  13. #13
    Junior Member David W's Avatar
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    Gassho Jundo

  14. #14
    Am going to start my metta practice!
    Gassho,
    Sridevi

  15. #15
    mohamed zen
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    Thank you very much dear master Jundo .
    It is very great practice .

    Gassho

    أرسلت من GT-N7000 بإستخدام تاباتلك

  16. #16
    Senior Member TimF's Avatar
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    I am going to "bump" this today as I was confused a bit about metta prior to reading through this wonderful teaching. There have been quite a few requests recently for me to "pray" for some in my family as they face difficult times in their lives, and I have felt conflicted when I tell them that I will do so.

    Gassho,
    Tim
    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  17. #17
    Member Nandi's Avatar
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    I have actually been doing Metta practice once weekly for almost a year now - I practice it in a Compassion and Healing meditation class I attend every week. This is the meditation I fall back on when I am sitting at a red light, folding laundry etc. I like it because somehow it makes me feel connected to everybody and I like that feeling

    Thank You Thank You Jundo

  18. #18
    I've never done metta practice before. At least not intentionally. Thank you for this!

    Andrew

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