25 December 2005

The Psychology of Metta (Loving Kindness)

One loves all beings:

(a) by the non-harassment of all beings and thus avoids harassment;
(b) by being inoffensive (to all beings) and thus avoids offensiveness;
(c) by not torturing (all beings) and thus avoids torturing;
(d) by the non-destruction (of all life) and thus avoids destructiveness;
(e) by being non-vexing (to all beings) and thus avoids vexing;
(f) by projecting the thought, "May all beings be friendly and not hostile";
(g) by projecting the thought," May all beings be happy and not unhappy";
(h) by projecting the thought, "May all beings enjoy well-being and not be distressed."

In these eight ways one loves all beings; therefore, it is called universal love. And since one conceives (within) this quality (of love), it is of the mind. And since this mind is free from all thoughts of ill-will, the aggregate of love, mind and freedom is defined as universal love leading to freedom of mind.

From the above passage it will be seen that Loving Kindness implies the "outgrowing" of negative traits by actively putting into practice the correlative positive virtues. It is only when one actively practices non-harassment towards all beings that one can outgrow the tendency to harass others. Similarly, it is with the other qualities of inoffensiveness, non-tormenting, non-destroying and non-vexing in deed, word and thought that one can outgrow the negative traits of being offensive, of tormenting others, of destructiveness and of vexatiousness.

Thoughts that wish all beings to be friendly and never hostile, happy and never unhappy, to enjoy well-being and never be distressed, imply not only sublimity and boundlessness, but also utter freedom of mind. Hence the appropriateness of the expression "universal love leading to freedom of mind."

The substitution of a negative trait by the opposed positive course implies a very developed and mature approach to life. The ability to remain non-harassing, inoffensive, non-torturing, non-destructive and non-vexing means a very refined, beautiful and loving mode of behavior in a world where interaction between human beings creates so much tension and misery.

Loving Kindness is a "solvent" that "melts" not only one's own psychic pollutants of anger, resentment and offensiveness, but also those of others. Since it takes the approach of friendship, even the hostile one turns into a friend.

Loving Kindness is characterized as that which "promotes welfare." Its function is to "prefer well-being" rather than ill. It manifests as a force that "removes annoyance" and its proximate cause is the tendency to see the good side of things and beings and never the faults. Loving Kindness succeeds when it loves, and it fails when it degenerates into worldly affection.

Love wards off ill-will, which is the most damaging of emotions. Hence it is said: "For this is the escape from ill-will, friends, that is to say, the freedom of mind wrought by universal love" (Digha Nikaya, III. 234).
There is a Song call "Chant of Metta" by Imee Ooi, maybe it might help in practising to spread the thoughts of kindness. Seat down relax, while listening to the Song, reading the lyrics, Spread the thought of loving kindness with the guide by the song:
Metta is a Pali word meaning loving-kindness. Metta chanting is the radiation of loving-kindness towards all beings: May they all be happy and peaceful. Imee Ooi chants the Pali beautifully. Metta chanting is soothing, uplifting, joyful and a great healing for the world - pervading it with waves of love. Truly, may all beings be happy. May they live always in peace and harmony.

The Chant of Metta Text
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Or you can simply spread thoughts of Loving Kindness according to this:
"May all be well and secure,
May all beings be happy!
Whatever living creatures there be,
Without exception, weak or strong,
Long, huge or middle-sized,
Or short, minute or bulky,
Whether visible or invisible,
And those living far or near,
The born and those seeking birth,
May all beings be happy!
Let none deceive or decry
His fellow anywhere;
Let none wish others harm
In resentment or in hate."
Spend your holidays spreading thoughts of Loving Kindness! ^_^

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