Napa Valley Insight Meditation Message Board › Facets of Lovingkindness: Readings for October 22nd NVMG Meeting
This Week (Tues. Oct 22) we will begin reading the 3rd Chapter in Sharon Salzberg’s book on Loving-kindness. This chapter explores how we can expand our practice to include others, to help us develop a natural kinship with all life. You can download a copy of the reading by clicking on the link below:
Please bring a copy with you to the meeting.
Sometimes the practice of loving-kindness and metta seems out of step with the rest of the Buddha’s teachings. It may seem cheesy to try and cultivate self-love and compassion by repeating a few phrases over and over again. How can this possibly help bring about our liberation and freedom?
To start with it is helpful (I think) to realize that unselfishness, happiness and compassion for others begins by gaining insight into the source of our own ill will, irritations, and insensitivities. In Buddhism this process is presented in a single unifying frame - the teaching of the Four Noble Truths.
The first noble truth is ill being or suffering. What is so noble about suffering? According to the Buddha, we can only liberate ourselves by connecting with our suffering. When we have the courage and conviction to face our suffering we begin to see how the wanting mind works. We discover the tender wounds that are the source of our dis-ease. This is the second noble truth. When you see the path that leads to suffering then you can begin to see the path out of suffering. It is a path of joy and happiness. The path of living with ease and well-being no matter what life throws our way. This is the third noble truth. The fourth noble truth is the Buddha’s prescription for gradual awakening, known as the Eightfold Path. Stated more succinctly, the four noble truths are:
1. The existence of suffering.
2. The origin of suffering
3. The cessation of suffering
4. The path to the cessation of suffering (eight fold path)
It can be overwhelming sometimes to truthfully face our deepest fears, our physical discomforts and judgments, our emotional stress. But without understanding the source of our suffering, we human beings have a history of striving to find happiness by possessiveness and greed, through violence and hatred, and acting out of delusion and ignorance. Our grasping, our aggressive desire for life to be different than it is brings unavoidable struggle and loss, all done purposely in the hopes of seeking safety and finding happiness.
Only by opening our hearts to our own pain and the pain of the world can we find freedom and peace. For me, this is why the practice of metta is so important. It helps me cultivate greater compassion and forgiveness for myself, which allows me to remain present when mental difficulties arise. I find that metta is like medicine for my fear. It also helps me to overcome anger, hatred and resentment. It allows me to befriend myself in an unconditional way and helps me to let go of my need for perfectionism, or to try and change the way my mind thinks. I can stay with my feelings of ill will, my suffering, and more clearly see the habitual patterns of my mind.
Through the force of metta I believe we begin to loosen the boundaries we have created around ourselves, and experience the interconnectedness of all beings. We see that we are united by the simple fact that we all wish to be happy. By practicing metta meditation we give expression to this wish for happiness and well-being for ourselves and all other sentient beings.
October 26: Thich Nhat Hanh at the Paramount
Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today, as well as a poet and peace and human rights activist. He will be giving a public talk at the Paramount Theater on October 26 entitled Refreshing Our Hearts: Touching the Wonders of Life. The presentation will also feature songs and monastic chants performed by the monks and nuns of Plum Village as well as guided meditation. I believe the event is sold out, but you can hear it in its entirety by registering at the web site below:
November 12: Ayya Santacitta & Ayya Anandabodhi
Ayya Santacitta & Ayya Anandabodhi are journeying up from San Francisco to give a Dharma talk to our meditation group on Tuesday November 12th. The sisters are dedicated to practicing the Buddha’s teaching in the style of the Theravada Forest Tradition and will share their wisdom about their practice with us. Please mark this date on your calender and plan to join us in welcoming the sisters to Napa.