What do we mean when we use the word, ‘Love’? It commonly refers to preference, greed, infatuation, lust, affection, and more. But in Buddhist practice, ‘Love’ means something different.
Loving-kindness (along with compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity) is a Brahmavihara - a facet of Awakened Mind that is vast, bottomless, non-personal, and fully developed within each of us. Loving-kindness isn’t like the set of afflictive mind states we usually refer to when we use the word ‘love’: When love is a preference, attraction, or transaction, it afflicts us with desire and it’s inevitable shadow, aversion.
Loving-kindness is an inexhaustible love that arises from Awakened Mind. It flows universally to the ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’; to those we like and don’t like; to those who benefit us and harm us. We don’t need to develop loving-kindness: we simply need to practice ardently so that the barriers to loving-kindness within our hearts and minds soften and allow True Love to flow.
Metta practice is an effective way to transform personal qualities that prevent the flow of True Love. Traditionally, loving-kindness is offered first to yourself, then to others who are close, neutral, and distant from your heart. I suggest that we practice this only for ourselves and trust that loving-kindness will tell us when we’re able to extend it to others.
Here’s the practice:
Breathe in and out with the following phrases, allowing them to unfold at their own pace. You don’t need to figure them out. When done daily, the practice becomes a joy.
May I be filled with loving-kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.
On the in-breath, accept whatever is present. On the out-breath, relax completely and allow loving-kindness to breathe out. This cycle of ‘breathing in life, and allowing loving-kindness to breathe out for you' is very healing. It is a lovely way to flow with this moment. This is the practice of love.
Listen to the full Podcast of this talk HERE.