I Never Metta Man…

Times of crisis send us – some of us, anyway – looking for wisdom and insight from myriad sources. I might have said this before; excuse any repetition these days here at C?WC? – the IMD has at times turned the brain to mush. Going out without my wallet? Check. Missing exits on the highway? Check. Overdue library books? Check. Now, I realize that for many people, that’s not a very felonious or out-of-the-ordinary list of infractions. But for someone as anal as me, they’re all evidence of a mind preoccupied with deeper concerns.

So, the insights and wisdom: One of the latest sources has been Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness, which outlines the Buddhist meditation practice known as metta, or lovingkindness. In simple prose, she outlines the usefulness of giving ourselves and the world kindness and compassion, as we strive for what everyone wants: simple happiness, a happiness not tied to things or goals or relationships, but an intrinsic happiness that stems from realizing the oneness of all beings. I might have missed a few nuances, but it’s something like that.

Along with the book, I found a guided meditation online, given by Salzberg herself, that walks the listener through the basics of metta. There are four basic statements, or intentions, as she calls them, that are at the heart of the meditation, though she encourages us to find our own that have personal meaning; one of mine is “May I find peace in solitude and self-reliance,” which seems appropriate since it looks like there’s going to be a long stretch of solitude, wanted or not, in the months (oh god, no – years?) to come. And there is a certain irony there too, since I heard so often from the Fex about her need for “solitude,” and all my efforts to give it were just never enough.

So, the four intentions: “May I be free from danger. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.” And repeat. Then, the intentions are extended outward – first to a benefactor, then a friend, a neutral person, someone who has wronged us, all beings, opposites (men and women, happy and unhappy people., etc.), and then another round of all beings (not quite sure what the distinction is with the first instance of that). For the bad person, the one who has wronged us, she counsels starting with someone who is merely irritating or difficult, not someone who has really hurt you, then work your way up. I have run through many folks as I avoid the one person I will eventually have to consider.

I’ve done the guided meditation pretty much every weekday for the past few weeks. In particularly stressful times during the day, I repeat the intentions. I have no clue if any of this is “helping” me in any concrete way, though I’d like to think, as with most of my spiritual practices, there is some cumulative effect. But I do think I find myself catching myself more often when I’m impatient or judgmental of others. I recall the essence of metta, as I understand it. It reminds us that we all, whatever our flaws, want the same things: happiness. We all, regardless of our external circumstances, suffer and just want to alleviate that the best we can. Hard to remember, perhaps, as you’re preparing to unleash a string of epithets at the jerk who just cut you off on the highway, but worth striving for, I think.

A more recent insight came from a friend of mine. She pointed out that the IMD is giving me a rebirth, a chance to rediscover who I am as a single person. Wow. I hadn’t thought of that. The more I reflected on it, the more…liberating it seemed. And profoundly scary. Maybe I don’t want a rebirth as a single person. Maybe I felt individuated enough as part of a couple. But, of course and once again, what I want means precious little during this process. I am single again. I have to overcome the fear. I should seize on the freedom it offers me and figure out, once again, who I am and what I want – besides that universal goal of happiness.

After the phone call with my friend, I wrote down her words of wisdom – rediscovering who I am as a single person. There it is. I will do it, because I have no other choice. And hopefully that rediscovery/redefinition will reap rewards when (yes, being optimistic here – when) I find that next relationship, the one that is part of each of ours, hers and mine,  overall happiness.

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~ by mburgan on August 29, 2010.

2 Responses to “I Never Metta Man…”

  1. Yay You! You’re on a new and wonderful path!

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