Lovingkindness…the Buddhist Way

In “Sordid Lives”,  there is a scene where Ty is having his second psych session for the day.  During this session he says, “Lately, I’ve been missing God…”  This line hits home.  I am Buddhist and the concept of an all knowing creator god is something I can’t follow.  However, lately, I have missed something.

I attend meditation at the Carolina Buddhist Vihara.  It was a weekly ritual and a much needed pause and escape.  I admit, I have not attended in several months.  Well, today I realized I do miss something: lovingkindness meditation.

I will give you a few scripture references, but I want to give you something more: my experience.  I have practiced Lovingkindness meditation on and off for about four years.  The idea is to concentrate the mind while experiencing an all encompassing love for all people. 

When doing Lovingkindness, you focus on yourself first, then your parents, a friendly person, a neutral person, a hostile person and then yourself again.  The script I use is: “May I be safe, free from danger.  May I be well in body and mind.  May I be happy.  May I be peaceful.”  This phrase is repeated for each category of person in the meditation.

So, why do it?  There are eleven benefits of which the Buddha spoke:

“O monks, there are eleven benefits from loving- kindness that arise from the emancipation of the heart. If repeated, developed, made much of, made a habit of, made a basis for, experienced, practiced, well-started, these eleven benefits are expected:
One sleeps well; One wakes up well;
One does not have nightmares;
One becomes affectionate to human beings; One becomes affectionate to non-human beings;
The deities protect one;
Neither fire nor poison nor weapons harm one;
One’s mind is easily calmed;
One’s countenance is serene; One dies without confusion;
Beyond that, if one fails to attain Nibbana, one is reborn in the higher heavens.”

So, what is the practical application of Lovingkindness and why do I miss it?  There is a sweetness in being that arises, a persistent joy, a quality of affection, an understanding that comes into play.  For me,  life quieted down.  I enjoyed seeing people in all states of being, even when they were cutting me off on my morning drive.  Lovingkindness was there, it had become a part of me.  If I became upset, it quickly dissipated as Lovingkindness came to bear on my mind.

I heard a story of a woman in Australia who practice Lovingkindness for several years.  She was deep in her practice when she a serial rapist attached her.  During her attack, her mind immediately went to that place of Lovingkindness where even the man violating her was held in a deep love.  Her attacker stopped, and began to sob.  He apologized for what he was doing and he begged her to take him to the police.  She spoke with him for some time, but did not give him over to the authorities.  She knew that he would live his actions forever, when she only had to deal with it for a few moments.  Does this sound outrageous?  That is what Lovingkindness does!!  It makes us so loving that even in horrid circumstances, we don’t lose the love we have.

“Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching. Monks, even in such a situation you should train yourselves thus: ‘Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to those very persons, making them as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.’ It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.”

So, I am going to start again with the practice of Lovingkindness and return home.  As Ty said at the church for his grandmother’s funeral, “Momma, I’m home!”  Well, Lovingkindness, I’m home!!!

May you all be blessed!

Truth, Light and Glory!

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