Monday, 5 March 2012

Metta matters

Post by Liz

Metta – The Practice of Loving-Kindness

I've been thinking about many things today. I have much to write about at the moment, there are many concerns both at home in our country and in the wider world and a great many wrongs being committed. The world feels particularly unbalanced at the moment. Sometimes I seem to be on an endless campaign taking up hours of my time passing on information, signing petitions, writing letters, just being generally bothersome both to the people I'm targeting and my family and friends, who probably by now just roll their eyes and think 'Oh, she's off on one again.' I could write a near endless list of all the wrongs in the world from the seeming callousness of Government, the greed of capitalism destroying the only home we have and the lives of human and non-human in it's wake. The horrors of war and genocide and the constant drum beat and sabre rattling towards Iran. The poverty, inequality, and cruelty. And I rage. Some may say I am just passionate about these things. But some days I really do rage against the injustices in the world. Some days it overwhelms me and I feel helpless and hopeless. But I listened to someone speak today, amongst many things two words stood out particularly. Ethics and stillness.

Rage is restless, undirected energy, dangerous and ultimately destructive. 'Anger is like an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.' -Mark Twain.

 It stopped me in my tracks and I asked myself when was the last time I was still? When did I last listen to the gentle whisperings of the spirit within?  While I rage at these seemingly cruel and 'evil' people telling them how unethical they are being, what am I doing to put my spiritual values into practice? When I fill with anger do I say yes, there is injustice, what small thing can I do to bring light to the dark and then let it go? Or do I hold on to that anger? When the feeling of hopelessness comes it is because I have become out of balance, it is because I have raged too much. Have I forgotten the there is God/Spirit/Light within everyone – yes even those whose actions are despicable and unbearable to witness. Have I been in danger of losing perspective, even adding to the darkness of the world in some way? Prof. Brian Cox would tell us that we are all made up of energy, the same energy, the energy that has existed since the beginning of the Universe and that makes us all one. We are interconnected, we are not separate. This is something I know and I understand. But the moment I start creating monsters in my head then I too am becoming divisive and more like the people I wish to enlighten. But hey, who said loving thy neighbour was going to be easy? It sure aint. Rather it is  a life long commitment and takes practice, lots of practice and lots of patience. If we all practised a little harder and cultivated compassion rather than anger, the world would quite possibly be a better place within a very short space of time. But that's idealistic and on our own  we can never change the whole world overnight, so sometimes while I dream about waving that magic wand, I have to pack my ego away back into its box.

 But I can change the world and so can you. Every action and every thought counts. You may not think it does, but really it does. Like gentle ripples in a large pond seemingly inconsequential, not even very interesting to look at, join with other ripples in the pond and they grow bigger and bigger and bigger until a tsunami of change occurs either physically or a shift in human consciousness happens. Of course we may not even be able to see that change, because we are at the other end of the pond, but perhaps we'll get to feel it who knows? Gotta be worth a try though hasn't it? Going back to Prof. Brian Cox, I don't know if anyone saw on TV the other day Prof. Cox explaining the interconnectedness of everything by explaining the Pauli Exclusion Principle     True it is in the realm of quantum physics, but what he said was pretty amazing. And funnily enough what some very spiritually enlightened people have been saying for thousands of years. Every action has a reaction.  As you sow, so shall you reap. He goes onto explain that no two electrons can exist on the same frequency or vibration at the same time, so when someone creates energy (in this case warming up a diamond in his hands) these small but very important particles have to shift. Not just in his hand, no, the whole Universe has to shift. This includes thoughts, which are essentially energy. Think about it.

 So, I would like to share a few things about loving-kindness or compassion if your prefer. I have by no means practised what I preach on a daily basis, sometimes I am quite the opposite! But those times that I have deliberately and consciously practised this it has had quite fantastic results. There is a group called Random Acts of Kindness which can be found online and basically they do what it says on the tin. You don't have to be religious, devout or have any particular faith just a belief that kindness can change the world. To me that pretty sums up ethics in a nutshell. The Golden Rule. It begins with a change within yourself, you are able to think with more clarity, you don't let stress, upset and worry in so much. This means you are freer to give of yourself. For me it can allow answers to problems to surface because you are more receptive and look for naturally for the positive. Now this can be passed on to others. In fact social experiments have been conducted with interesting results. I see so many people rushing to and fro, head down, frowning, grouchy, some look positively miserable. I don't usually speak, I just catch their eye and give them a huge smile with all the love and acceptance I can muster. I've had some interesting reactions. Some have stopped in their tracks, looked surprised, even confused (understandable as most people appear quite hostile sometimes) but go away walking a little taller head held high. Some stop and smile back, and it changes their whole appearance. Some even thank me and say that's nice or I really needed that you've made my day. And some ignore, reject or scowl at you – but that's fine too, because what you give is free and nothing is wanted in return. So the point is, those people now feeling happier within themselves, may themselves be disposed to acts of kindness and so it ripples out. This Metta is classless, it is free of dogma, doesn't care what country you are from, it cares not what sex you are or what sexual orientation, it is non-judgemental, it can cross all boundaries and the great thing is, everyone has it and everyone is capable of receiving it should they choose to.

 I think in many ways whether you place a spiritual connotation on it or whether you don't it's pretty instinctive. It's in our DNA. Sometimes those difficult people, the people who appear cruel..they weren't born that way, they in the very beginning had access to this wonderful stuff, but somewhere along the line they got disconnected, it happens for many different reasons. The acid of anger has eaten away at them and they have forgotten how to receive and so are unable to give.

 So this put me in mind of some verses that speak loving-kindness and for me anyway, are good forms of spiritual practice. And don't forget loving-kindness to yourself, for if you are filled then you have bounteous amounts to share with everyone and everything else.

The Metta Mantra (full versions can be found online)

       May I be free from suffering and the causes of suffering

       Free from enmity and danger

       Free from mental suffering

       Free from physical suffering

       May I live joyously and be happy

       May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering

       Free from enmity and danger

       Free from mental suffering

       Free from physical suffering

       May all sentient beings live joyously and be happy

       May/family/teacher/spiritual leader etc …..

'Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings'

The Prayer of St. Francis.

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

    Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

   Where there is darkness, light.

  Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


This blog contribution could have been anything, I could have spoken about Workfare, the NHS, both hot topics. I could have added a few more words to the millions of words already written about it. But in this context I wonder what purpose it would have served? I was still for a moment and became the observer and for what it is worth, this is what spoke to me. Take it or leave it, but be blessed and be happy.

Namaste _/\_


  1. I seem to spend my time simply agreeing wholeheartedly with the writers of our blogs. How pathetic is that? And yet how can one disagree with such sentiments? Thank you, Namaste, for pointing out what really matters in life. You have put it all so eloquently and beautifully.Just one question: Fancy doing a service for us sometime?
    The Anonymous Graham

  2. Hi Graham, thanks for your comment. You happening to agree with most of what is said in these blogs doesn't mean you're pathetic it means you share similar values to the authors and you 'get it' :) that's a great thing! I'm blushing at your compliment with regards to a service, I really am not worthy and wouldn't have a clue where to start. Sometimes the spirit moves and it feels easy to write. Perhaps I may be able to bring something to the Congregational meeting if inspired! Bless you Graham.