Ayya Khema : The benefits of Metta meditation

Ayya_khema-1Metta is greatly helped by meditative insights that show us that our separation from one another is an illusion. When we discover that all of us are parts of the same whole, and when we actually feel that in meditation, it becomes so much easier to have the same love for ourselves and for others. It is not a passionate emotion, but a harmonious, friendly, accepting, and peaceful feeling for oneself and other people. The Buddha’s path leads away from passion toward dispassion.

Metta is to be extended toward all beings and all manifestations, yet most of our difficulties lie with people. It is much easier to love birds, dogs, cats, and trees than it is to love people. Trees and animals don’t answer back, but people do, so this is where our training commences. We should consider practicing metta as part of our spiritual growth project. You will find guided metta meditations throughout this book; they are a means of directing the mind toward this aspect of our emotional purification.

Sometimes people find they don’t feel anything while practicing metta meditation. That is nothing to worry about; thoughts aimed often enough in the right direction eventually produce the right feelings. All our sense contacts produce feelings. Thoughts are the sixth sense, and even if we are only thinking metta, eventually the feeling will arise. Thinking is one means of helping us to gain this heart quality, but certainly not the only one.

In our daily activities all of us are confronted with other people and often with those whom we would rather avoid. These are our challenges, lessons, and tests. If we consider them in that manner, we won’t be so irritated by these experiences, nor will we be so apt to think, “I wish this wasn’t happening,” or “I wish he’d go away,” or “I wish he would never say another word,” thereby creating dukkha for ourselves. When we realize that such a confrontation is exactly what we need at that moment in order to overcome resistance and negativity and to substitute metta (or those emotions, then we will be grateful for the opportunity. Eventually we will find (mostly in retrospect, of course) that we can be very grateful to those people who have made life most difficult for us.

In overcoming that hurdle we took a big step ahead. If we keep on remembering the wrongs we have suffered, then our growth is retarded. Overcoming resistance, aversion, and negative reactions is the path of purification, the spiritual path, which can happen nowhere else except in our own heart and mind. It can never happen outside of us, and only works with mindfulness and introspection. When we see clearly, we can change.

We will not succeed each time when our heart and mind are negatively involved, but such occasions will certainly remind us of what we are actually trying to do. When we completely forget, we are not practicing at all. Half the spiritual life consists of remembering what we are up against and where we are going. Metta, unconditional love, is not an easy thing to develop, but it is essential.  (…)

A person with a great deal of metta acts like a magnet. People are always drawn to that. However, if one wants to experience metta, one has to have it oneself. There is no other way, because another person’s metta, while pleasant, immediately disappears when that person goes away. We can’t hang on to another person, no matter who they are; it would create dependency on someone else, while the path we have chosen teaches independence. Moreover another’s metta demonstrates their purification and does not encourage our own growth. We have to generate the feeling of metta within ourselves. Everyone can do it, though some people find it easier than others. It is a matter of working at it.

All of us suffer from ego delusion, which brings hate and greed in its wake. Those people who have more greed find metta easier than those who have more hate. The latter have other advantages, though. They are more likely to stick to the practice because they feel so much more uncomfortable. A great meditation master in Thailand once said that he would prefer that all his monks had more hate than greed. People with hate are harder to live with, but they practice with enthusiasm because they are so keen to change.

An important part of our spiritual growth, one for which no special occasion is needed, is to practice metta toward people at all times, whether while shopping, going to the post office, meeting somebody on the street, or answering the phone.

There is always an opportunity to practice. So many opportunities facilitate our growth, but can also make it more difficult because we may often forget. Hearing and remembering are two main aspects of the teaching. Only when we remember can we eventually make the Dhamma our own. Otherwise we have nothing to work with.

Metta is a beautiful word—just five letters signifying the purity of our own heart, the heart essence, often obscured, yet always available.


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The Tibetan Book of The Dead : Death cometh to all

bardo todolO nobly-born, thou art departing from this world, but thou art not the only one ; death cometh to all. Do not cling, in fondness and weakness, to this life. Even though thou clingest out of weakness, thou hast not the power to remain here. Thou wilt gain nothing more than wandering in this Sangsara. Be not be attached to this world ; be not weak. p. 103

To those who have meditated much, the real Truth dawned as soon as the body and consciousness-principle part. The acquiring of experience while living is important : they who have (then) recognized (the true nature of their own being), and thus have had some experience, obtain great power during the Bardo of the Moment of Death, when the Clear Light dawneth. p. 151

Now, if thou art to hold fast to the real Truth, thou must allow thy mind to rest undistractedly in the nothing-to-do, nothing-to-hold condition of the unobscured, primordial, bright, void state of thy intellect, to which thou hast been introduced by thy guru. (..), p. 157

The Tibetan Book of The Dead translated by Dr WY Evans Wentz

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When you are walking, know that you are walking

Walking meditation in the Theravada tradition – The power of attention

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Bede Griffith : The absolute Truth and the absolute love which alone is God

bedegriffithWriting on Easter Day to Sister Pascaline, Bede Griffith remind her that the God they were celebrating drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea without mercy, massacred their first-born without pity and commanded his people to occupy the land of other peoples.

« Such a God is obviously intolerable. It was concealed before because the Fathers interpreted it all in an allegorical sens, but the brute reality remains. »

Equally, he was appalled by the violence of some of the Psalms : « God is love and mercy and grace and truth to the people of Israel, but for those outside, he has no pity. He « hates » the wicked, he judges and condemns, he punishes in his wrath and this extend to all humanity.

It seems to me that Jesus came to put an end to this jealous God and in his final surrender on the cross gave up the God of Israel (My God, my God why have you forsaken me ?) and in total surrender to death and the void, realised the absolute truth and the absolute love, which alone is God. »

Beyond the Darkness (on Bede Griffith by Shirley du Boulay)

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Edward Salim Michael : Is it possible to change the past ?


au-coeur-du-temps_57748_29021In what manner may one change the past?…  How is it possible to avoid committing the same errors again, re-establishing connections with people who constitute an obstacle to what one is trying to attain spiritually, being continually trapped in the same activities incompatible with a spiritual quest, and so on…?”

By way of direct intuitive insights, Salim had come to comprehend that the past had not vanished into total nothingness, as one is used to imagining, it waits, in dimensions not ordinarily comprehensible, for suitable conditions to present themselves, allowing it to become manifest once more.

He realized that the manner in which a human being has comported himself, as well as all that he has thought, said, and done in the past, wait inexorably to live again in him and to pursue their manifestation in the present. And, as the past and the future converge every fraction of a second in the present, the seriousness with which an aspirant accomplishes his spiritual practices and the efforts that he makes to liberate himself from his undesirable inclinations and from the tendency of his mind to be always turned towards the exterior are, not only changing his destiny and preparing for him a different future, but also, and in the most mysterious and ordinarily incomprehensible manner, are changing the past, so that it can never again repeat itself in the same way.

The Price of a Remarkable Destiny

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George Adie : The point of doing

georgeadie85ansIf only we could understand that because of our work here, we are on the point of “doing”.

One of the first things we are told here, is that we cannot “do”.  And it takes a long, long time before we really realise that we can’t – that everything happens.  We still think that we can do this and decide that, but in fact it all happens mechanically.  At this moment, nobody here could suddenly think differently from what they think.  We can’t change our history – we walk into this room with a history, and now we are like this.

But we have a certain possibility, and that is what I call the “point of doing”.

if we approach the point of doing, we have the opportunity of a new beginning, but with an understanding that can subtly alter everything. And this, the point of doing, is what Is missing from the ordinary theories and practices which abound in the world.

We are passive.  By “passive”, I mean that our actions and thoughts are not intentional: we resist nothing, we go, we are forced, a thought comes, and it takes me.  Only I rarely notice this, because I am passive. I do not think or act according to a conscious intention – but we can intend an “inner doing”.

When people first come to the work, we nearly always ask what we have got to do.  And this seemingly simple, transparent and completely practical question has a significance.

But after years, so to say, “in the work”, it has almost utterly disappeared from our questioning. It is as if we have lost the realisation that an action of doing is essential to any real work.

Of course, when I first asked: “what shall I do?”, my idea of doing was totally wrong. But maybe that doesn’t matter – there is something about us which realises that something is required.

It Is not much good to come here in search of something, only to end up passive.

Yet, gradually, as we hear and as we practise, and are disappointed, and try again, gradually this question “what shall I do?”  disappears.

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Dhammapada – Sayings of the Buddha – Chapter 2 – Vigilance


Vigilance is the path to Life Eternal. Thoughtlessness is the path to death. The reflecting vigilant die not. The heedless are already dead. (21)

The wise distinctly understand this. Therefore they delight in wakeful watching. They graze in the pastures of the Aryas, the Noble Ones. (22)

Meditative, persevering, ever strenuous in endeavour, the tranquil ones attain Nirvana, the highest freedom and happiness.  (23)

Continually grows the glory of that person who is wakeful and mindful, whose deeds are pure, whose acts are deliberate, who is self-controlled and who lives according to Law.   (24)

By endeavour, by vigilance, by discipline and self-control, let the wise persons make for themselves an island which no flood can overwhelm. (25)

Fools and witless persons give themselves to sloth. The wise value vigilance as their best treasure. (26)

Be not a sluggard. Have no dalliance with lust and sense delights. They who meditate with earnestness attains great joy. (27)

When the prudent persons overcome sloth by vigilance, they ascend to the terrace of wisdom. Sorrowless they survey the sorrowful crowd. These wise persons regard the foolish as the mountaineers from their high peak look at those who are dwelling on the plains.     (28)

Vigilant among the heedless, awake among the sleepy, the wise one forges ahead even as a charger outdistances a weak horse. (29)

By vigilance did Indra rise to the lord ship of the gods. Vigilance is always praised, heedlessness ever deprecated. (30)

A Monastic who delights in vigilance, who sees the danger of heedlessness, advances like a fire consuming fetters, small or large. (31)

 Monastics who delight in vigilance, who see the danger of heedlessness, will not fall; they are close upon Nirvana. (32)

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Swami Ramdas : There is no greater ennemy than lazyness

RAMDASMeditation at stated times and remembrance of God at all times is necessary in the case of all sadhakas. Conceive a thirst and hunger for God. Feel discontented for want of that hunger. A lukewarm desire does not result in much progress. Pray to God to give you that, keen hunger. If you do sadhana, you will get that hunger. Only be thorough and stead. Do not do things off and on. Have your sadhana every day with greater and greater intensity.

The path of the spiritual aspirant is not an easy one; but one who is determined to progress along it, is sure to reach the goal.

The only way to control the mind and free it from undesirable thoughts is to put your life under strict discipline. Above all, don’t come under the insinuating influence of laziness and inactivity. There is no greater enemy that comes in the way of an aspirant’s advance on the path than laziness.

The Divine Life

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Ian Stevenson : interview on his work about the children who remember their previous lives.

Omni: Why do most Westerners ridicule the idea of reincarnation?


Stevenson: It’s hard to find any single explanation. Some southern European Christians believed in reincarnation until the Council of Nice banned such beliefs in 553 A.D. In The Republic, Plato described souls about to be reborn as choosing their future lives. Schopenhauer took it seriously, and Voltaire’s observation that it is no more surprising to be born twice than once is wellknown. Yet most scientists nowadays do not believe in survival after death. I suppose Darwinian ideas contributed to a sort of dethroning of the soul. Reincarnation may be particularly uncongenial because it’s so much identified—mistakenly I think—with the Hindu and Buddhist ideas of being reborn as an animal.

Omni: Your new book discusses some misconceptions about the idea of reincarnation. What is the most common? 


Stevenson: The idea that reincarnation must include what Hindus call Karma, especially retributive Karma. 

Omni: Retributive Karma being the idea that whatever bad you do in this life is paid for in the next by having the same amount of evil done to you? 

Stevenson: Something like that. It can be more specific, so that if you put out someone’s eyes, you will be blinded. There is no evidence for the idea of retributive Karma.

Omni: Scientists usually dismiss reincarnation as some sort of wishful thinking. Yet William James noted that our desire to believe in survival after death does not automatically negate its possibility. We do want to believe in it, don’t we? 

Stevenson: No, in fact we don’t. That’s a misunderstanding concerning Hindus and Buddhists. They believe in it, but they don’t particularly want to. Hindus see life in terms of a constant cycle of births in which we are doomed to struggle and suffer until we have reached perfection and can escape. Fear of death is almost universal; and some two thousand years ago Patanjali, an Indian sage, said it was due to our fear of having to undergo a postmortem review of our lives, to be judged and presumably be found wanting.

reincarnationbiologyWhen I talked to Ramakrishna Swami in Chandigarh, he asked me what I was doing, and I replied with a certain enthusiasm. After a long silence he finally said, “We know that reincarnation is true, but it doesn’t make any difference because here in India we have just as many rogues and villains as you have in the West”

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Edward Salim Michael : The fight to master the mind


The aspirant must realise, that, whichever spiritual path he is committed to, there can be no guarantee in succeeding to know, in a veritable way, the Infinite dwelling in him. Among all those who followed a given path, very few have attained this so out-of-the-ordinary goal. An uncompromising honesty towards oneself, a maximum of scruples, a painful sincerity and an extreme seriousness represent the only guarantee there can be in this domain – as is depicted by the life of great mystics.

         Any form of concentration, in a meditation practice, when accomplished by the aspirant with the required seriousness, implies without doubt some suffering at the outset – suffering that he cannot in any way avoid – and, according to his level of being, even perhaps for a long time.

         He will notice that, as soon as he will want to control the aimless wanderings of his mind, the force of habits being too strong, he will encounter a strong refusal in him; and the fight he will have to lead to win over this resistance will produce, at the beginning of this work on himself, suffering, until the day when he will become able – at least to a certain degree – to master his mind.

Translated from French ‘S’éveiller, une question de vie ou de mort’
(To Awaken, a Matter of Life and Death) chap 6

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