Metta

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    February Dharma Talk for Leicester Home Group –

    Here are a few lines from the poem ‘Hokusai Says’ by Roger Keyes:

    ‘Everything lives inside us.’

    ‘It matters that you care.’

    ‘It matters that you feel.’

    ‘It matters that life lives through you.’

    Containing all things; caring about all things; feeling for all things; noticing all things; all of life living through me – this sounds to me a lot like ‘love’.

    In Buddhism, ‘love’ is often expressed as ‘metta’, meaning, ‘unconditional loving kindness’.

    This ‘metta’ can be represented by the compassion realm of Amitabha Buddha and by bodhisattvas such as Kuan Yin and Samantabhadra.

    In Samantabhadra’s case, this is a metta so unconditional and loving that he embraces and guides all beings equally, guiding each according to their needs and natures, taking the suffering of beings onto himself. He rides on an elephant, a big, joyful, gentle being, over-comer of all obstacles.

    Love could be opening to the suffering of myself and of other beings, sustained by the great love represented by Samantabhadra within me.

    In Buddhism there is an emphasis on non-separation, on interconnectedness, on all of life living each manifestation of it, as in Roger Keyes poem, Hokusai Says. So, the suffering of others is not separate from me from this point of view, and Samantabhadra’s equal love of all beings is not separate from me.

    In walking the path of metta, I can open to the suffering of all beings and the great love for all beings.

    Suffering can give rise to the out-of-kilterness of ‘dukkha’, that uncomfortable state in the Buddha’s four noble truths, one of the central texts of Buddhism. That is, the out-of-kilter state can arise if I try to push away the suffering or to cover it over with distractions.

    Love can be opening to my suffering and, through this, finding kinship with all beings and compassion towards the dukkha of myself and others.

    The attitude of ‘deep hearing’ of Pureland Buddhism, usually – contemplating the scriptures – can be applied to the scripture of everyday living, and in hearing my suffering without pushing it away or covering it over with distractions, I am showing metta to myself.

    Faith, hope and love are a trio familiar from Christianity. A doing faith of little acts of kindness through each day – a smile, a flower, a drink, a sympathetic ear, a meal, a poem, a song, sharing the stars on a clear night – is a path of unconditional loving kindness, of ‘metta’, expressed in the words:

    Om Samaya Sattvam; Om Amideva Hrih; Namo Amida Butsu…

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