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The impact of loving kindness

Sometimes the practice of Insight meditation may be interpreted to be a kind of practice which makes the meditator a heartless or indifferent being, like a vegetable without any love and compassion for other living beings. We must remember, however, that the Buddha has strongly advised us to cultivate four sublime states of mind: loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity.

The first of these four is so important that the Buddha advised that one who depends entirely upon people for one’s living (i.e. a monk or nun) can repay one’s indebtedness to lay supporters if one practices loving kindness towards all living beings, even for such a short time as a fraction of a second each day. Karaniyametta Sutta says, “One should develop this mindfulness which is called divine behaviour here”. Mindfulness is one of the most important factors in the entire teaching of the Buddha. From the day He attained Enlightenment till He passed away at the age of 80, in almost every Dhamma talk He stressed mindfulness.

When He equates the practice of loving kindness with that of mindfulness, we can understand the significance of the practice of loving kindness in the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha perfected it for the attainment of Enlightenment and balanced it with wisdom.

Even after the attainment of Enlightenment, the very first thing He did every day, was to enter into the attainment of Great Compassion, which is an outcome of the practice of loving-kindness. Then He surveyed the world to see if there were any being whom He could help to understand Dhamma. These four sublime states of mind are called ‘Brahma Vihara’, best behaviour or best attitude. The first three of these are strong enough to attain the first three Jhanas and the last to attain the fourth Jhana.

They are so important in the practice of Vipassana meditation that they are included in the second step of the Noble Eightfold Path. In fact, no concentration is possible without these sublime states of mind because in their absence the mind would be filled with hatred, rigidity, worry, fear, tension and restlessness.

Preliminary to the practice of these noble states of mind is overcoming our hatred, which is a thoughtless way of wasting one’s energy. Hate is compared to boiling water when it is active or jaundice when it is unexpressed. It can destroy your meditation practice and moral training. The hateful person is compared to a half burned log of wood left in a funeral pyre. Both ends of this log are burned and turned to charcoal and the middle is covered with filth.

Nobody would like to pick it up for firewood or for any other purpose because it can dirty the hand of the person who handles it. Similarly the hateful person will be avoided by all means, if possible, by everybody.

We must start the practice of loving kindness with ourselves first.

Sometimes some of you may wonder why we have to love ourselves first. Wouldn’t that amount to self love and lead to selfishness? When you investigate your own mind very carefully, however, you will be convinced that there is no one in the whole universe that you love more than yourself. The Buddha advised, “Investigating the whole world with my mind never did I find anyone dearer than oneself. Since oneself is dearer than others, one who loves oneself should never harm others”.

One who does not love oneself can never love another at all. By the same token one who loves oneself will feel the impact of loving kindness and then can understand how beautiful it is if every heart in the whole world is filled with the same feeling of loving-kindness.

The loving kindness that we want to cultivate is not an ordinary love as it is understood in everyday application. When you say, “I love such-and-such a person” or “such-and-such a thing”, for instance, what you really mean is that you desire that particular person’s appearance, behaviour, ideas, voice, or overall attitude; either towards you in particular or towards life in general.

If that person changes the things you like very much in him or her you may decide that you do not love him or her. When your tastes, whims and fancies or that of the other person change, then you would not say “I love so-and-so”.

In this love-hate duality you love one and hate another. You love now and hate later. You love when you wish and hate when you wish. You love when everything is smooth and rosy and hate when anything goes wrong with the relationship between you and the other person or thing. If your love changes from time to time, place to place and situation to situation in this fashion then what you call “love” is not true loving kindness but lust, greed, or desire - not love by any means.

The kind of loving kindness that we want to cultivate through meditation does not have its opposite or an ulterior motive. Therefore, the love-hate dichotomy does not apply to loving kindness cultivated through wisdom or mindfulness, for it will never change into hate, as circumstantial changes take place. True loving kindness is a natural faculty concealed under the heap of greed, hatred and ignorance. Nobody can give it to us.

We must find it out within ourselves and cultivate it mindfully. Mindfulness discovers it, cultivates it and maintains it. “I” consciousness (ahankara) dissolves in mindfulness and its place will be taken by loving kindness free from selfishness.

Because of our selfishness we hate some people. We want to live in certain ways, do certain things in certain ways, perceive things in certain ways; not in any other way. If others do not agree with our views, our ways and our styles, we not only hate them but become entirely so irrational and blind with unmindfulness that we might even deprive them of their right to live.

When you practice loving-kindness you do not get angry if you do not receive any form of favour in return from persons and beings to whom you radiate your loving kindness, because you have no ulterior motive when you radiate loving kindness towards them.

In this net of loving kindness not only do you include all beings as they are, but you wish all of them, without any discrimination, to be happy minded. You continue to behave gently and kindly towards all beings, speaking gently and kindly about them in their presence as well as in their absence.

When we meditate, our minds and bodies become naturally, relaxed. Our hindrances dissolve. Our sleepiness and drowsiness, for instance, are replaced by alertness. Doubt is replaced by confidence, hatred by joy, restlessness and worry by happiness.

As our resentment is replaced by joy, loving-kindness hidden in our subconscious mind expresses itself, making us more peaceful and happy. In this state of meditation we gain concentration and overcome our greed. We can see how meditation destroys hatred and cultivates loving kindness, which in turn supports our practice of meditation. Together these two operate in unison, culminating in concentration and insightfulness. Therefore, to pick up one’s own mind wave of loving-kindness one must fine tune oneself through the practice of mindfulness meditation.

When harmful thoughts arise we learn not to entertain them and when peaceful thoughts arise we let them grow and stay in the mind much longer. This way we learn from our own experience how to think more healthily. This practice conditions our minds to grow loving kindness.

ඇසළ අමාවක පෝය

ඇසළ අමාවක පෝය ජූලි මස 21 වන දා අඟහරුවාදා පූර්ව භාග 11.50 ට ලබයි. 22 වන දා බදාදා පූර්ව භාග 08.06 දක්වා පෝය පවතී. සිල් සමාදන් වීම ජූලි මස 21 වන දා අඟහරුවාද ය.
මීළඟ පෝය ජූලි මස 28 වන දා අඟහරුවාදාය.

පොහෝ දින දර්ශනය

New Moonඅමාවක

ජූලි 21

First Quarterපුර අටවක

ජූලි 28

Full Moonපසෙලාස්වක

අගෝස්තු 5

Second Quarterඅව අටවක

අගෝස්තු 13

2009 පෝය ලබන ගෙවෙන වේලා සහ සිල් සමාදන් විය යුතු දවස

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