I hope all is well with you.
I think some of us are getting a bit fed up with the lockdown, but can’t really go back to normal just yet, so are in a bit of a limbo.
Why not come and join us in our zoom meetings on Monday evenings:
3/8 Danapriya (with the launch of his new book)
I am looking forward to seeing you at some of these.
The link is the same as always which is: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5Iuc–pqjIpPaCyNk0DFt7eq5fZh94cHA
Also if you can make it, the LBC are doing a lot of live classes. https://www.londonbuddhistcentreonline.com/ .
I have been doing the 8am morning meditations. It is a really lovely way to start the day.
All the very best
p.s. The photo is a blast from Nandavajra’s visit in 2016
p.p.s. Here is an excerpt from Vajragupta’s book “Buddhism: Tools for living your life”, which we recommend to people new to Buddhism (as well as more experienced people)
learning to love
In the previous chapter we explored how the cultivation of mindfulness leads to greater self-awareness. In this chapter we will be looking at how to become more aware of others.
Although we may aspire to being more kind, or patient, or calm, the heart doesn’t always respond the way our head thinks it should. We need other ways of connecting to a heart that is more open and at ease, more able to love.
Loving-kindness can be defined as a warm, concerned, awareness of ourselves and other people. When we love, we want others to be happy and to have what they need to be truly happy. This sounds very nice in theory, but a difficulty arises when another person’s needs or wants do not coincide with our own. It is in these situations that our relationships with people are really tested. Loving does not entail ignoring our own needs, but neither does it mean always putting our needs above those of everyone else.
Sometimes you meet people who behave in one or other of these extreme ways. The martyr constantly sacrifices himself or herself, but deep down is full of resentment, while the immaturely selfish person goes about life completely oblivious of other people. The art of loving lies in nurturing awareness of both our own and others’ needs, negotiating between them appropriately and with kindness and generosity of spirit.
There is a meditation practice designed to help develop this loving heart, known traditionally as the metta bhavana. These are two Pali words, the first of which is usually translated ‘loving-kindness’, the second as ‘cultivation’ or ‘development’. So in this chapter we are going to be exploring the cultivation of loving-kindness. We will consider how we can develop love and positive emotion by looking at how this particular meditation practice works.
The meditation is performed in five stages. While sitting quietly, you cultivate this well-wishing attitude first towards yourself, then towards a good friend, then a ‘neutral’ person (someone you don’t know well, or don’t strongly like or dislike), then towards someone you find difficult, and then to as many living beings as possible – gradually expanding out and including more and more. So we can see that the loving-kindness meditation is structured in a way that reflects the need to be aware of self as well as of others.
When we first take up this practice, we might do it very simply. For example, as you choose a person to bring to mind in each of the five stages, you just quietly say certain words or phrases to yourself, such as ‘May I/they be well,’ ‘may I/they be happy,’ ‘may I/they be free from suffering,’ ‘may I/they fulfil my/their highest potential.’ Just dropping these phrases into your heart can be like dropping pebbles into a deep pool – a ripple expands outwards. It may be surprising that something so simple can work, but currents of more positive emotion can indeed be coaxed into being, or positive emotion that is already present cane given more momentum and strength.
However, as we saw in the previous chapter when we explored the mindfulness of breathing, meditation involves more than mechanically counting breaths or reciting phrases. As we gain experience in the practice, we learn to take a broader, more varied approach. It is good to experiment and use our imagination – any method that helps us be more emotionally aware and develop loving-kindness is valid. So we will now look at the meditation stage by stage and examine some possible techniques.
© Windhorse Publications