Then there is metta and upekkha (loving-kindness and equanimity): just awareness allows us to have metta because it doesn’t judge; it accepts everything as it is. This is what metta is.
Just the formulas for metta in the Pali Canon can sound terribly sentimental. I remember when I first came to London and we started a metta meditation with: ‘May I be well. May I abide in wellbeing,’ and so forth. And I noticed that people tended to feel quite cynical about that, because it can sound rather sentimental and trying to be terribly nice about everything; it can sound false. But metta is much deeper than just nice ideas and good thoughts, isn’t it? It is a way of receiving everything and allowing things to be what they are, both internally and externally. It is not about approving or liking, but just being able to allow the world to be the way it is without resenting, hating, or judging it. And that also applies internally like being able to have metta for your own cynicism, for example. I can be quite cynical myself. On an ideal level cynicism is not a quality that is praiseworthy in Buddhism. ‘I should have love for all creatures,’ and then I think, ‘rubbish!’ But then if I trust my awareness where I find I am, then I receive that for what it is and not judge it. Not judging myself I found one of the most difficult exercises, because I am a terrible critic of myself. It just seems so right to do; it seems so honest to admit and to kind of emphasize that I have these faults and weaknesses. But actually this attitude of metta is just receiving weaknesses, faults, negativities, just allowing it to be this way. And then of course everything ceases. If we receive life, its natural flow is towards cessation.
First published by Buddhism Now.
Artwork © Marcelle Hanselaar
Categories: Foundations of Buddhism