So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
~ Buddha’s discourse on Loving Kindness
Thanks to all of you who are joining in the Summer of Loving Kindness Invitational, #SOLI. It’s a delight to see what you’re creating. I must admit to being very happy every time a new person joins in.
I’m also excited to discover that I’m noticing more and more kindness related offerings on the internet, whether they’re from #SOLI participants or not. This is exactly what I wanted — to turn my mind to loving kindness and discover it all around me on a more constant basis. I hope that’s happening for you, too.
We can all be mirrors of loving kindness everywhere.
[Just so you know, I'm writing it as "loving kindness" here in this post for the sake of the search engines. I'd like to have as many people as possible discovering and engaging in this awareness.]
As we explore our concepts of loving kindness inspired by the writing prompts or our own insights, I thought it would be helpful to share the Buddhist meaning of the word.
Many of you know the word Metta; it comes from the Pali language. (Some of you also know Maitri, which is Sanskrit.) It’s most often translated as loving kindness, but in truth there is no singular word in English that expresses the full breadth of the word. It’s more than affection or warm feelings, and very different from the attachment that forms with worldly love.
Some translators say it literally means “friendliness,” but that too is different from how we generally use the word.
When we love, when we feel friendliness for someone, we tend to exclude others. We think “I love you.” Or “This person is my friend. This group is my tribe. That person is a stranger. Those people are my adversaries.”
Metta does not set up such boundaries of exclusion. True loving kindness is extended to all humanity. That is what makes it a practice requiring (and worthy of) ongoing devotion.
The Buddha uses the image of a mother’s love for her only child as the epitome of love. It’s the loving kindness we should develop for all beings. When you consider how carefully this mother would attend to her child, how no self-sacrifice would be too great to see her child survive and flourish, you begin to grasp the full meaning of metta. You come to understand what is being asked of you, and what a great gift you give to the world, even if you can only generate a small amount of loving kindness at a time.
If you’re a parent, I would love to hear how this description resonates with your experience.
For everyone: How can you bring the essence of loving kindness into your day?