Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shift Happens, so SHINE! (video)

Seven (Co-Editor, Wisdom Quarterly)

The Real Meaning of "Metta"
The exclusively Buddhist language Pali has a word being incorporated into English: Mettā. This term (Sanskrit, maitri) is very much like the English meta.

Although it is usually translated as (altruistic-) love, kindness, loving-kindness, or friendliness, it has more in common with meta, which means "beyond." It is an "active interest in others" that takes us beyond ourselves.

Selfishness, self-interest, and self-absorption are the problem; the sense of love that grows so powerful it becomes compassion is part of the solution along with liberating wisdom.

Metta goes beyond. It transcends. It is universal and eventually boundless. One extends it first to loved ones, respected teachers, one's own tribe or the constellation one navigates. But with the same fervor a mother shows for a beloved child, that same concern extends to everyone without exception -- even the monsters, betrayers, Hitlers, devils, or anyone considered "other."

Of course, there's ONE horrible, almost unforgivable creature who also deserves our loving-kindness. Most find this being so odious that they just cannot bear to forgive it. Compared to this one, Adolf Hitler is easy. But it is necessary to do so. It may even be necessary to forgive this one first:

You can travel the whole universe and yet never find anyone more deserving of your loving-kindness than yourself.

According to Gary Sanders: The founder of Against the Stream, (Dharma Punx author) Noah Levine had so much trouble loving Levine that he set up a picture of himself as a child on an altar. Following Jack Kornfield's advice, he developed loving-kindness towards that child for a year. When we are able to love ourselves, loving everyone else somehow becomes possible. And we can finally go beyond.

Shift happens, like an accident or job loss. But foul shytza becomes fine soil. For it is capable of fertilizing many great things. It is fundamental to our meta-morphosis into loving, empathic beings.