Mo’ Metta Mo’ Betta

Metta, or loving-kindness, is a pure, unconditional, and selfless love for yourself and others. According to the Buddhist Teachings, metta is defined as the strong wish for the happiness and well-being of yourself and others, and words and actions that flow from this wish. Loving-kindness and wisdom go hand in hand.

Metta is radically different from our conventional and sensationalized Hollywood understanding of romantic love, which is typically based on desire, attraction, possessiveness, and self-interest. Metta is a form of love that is boundless and doesn’t discriminate. It isn’t based on your relationships, identity, preferences, or any other conditions, including what the other person has done for you lately!

You don’t share metta with this person but not that person. You don’t just share it only with people you like of a particular gender, race, personality, or status; you share it with other living beings without exception. And unlike “respect”, which is so conditional and relative, metta is both unconditional and constant. It can be described as a universal and unattached love since it seeks the happiness of literally all living beings, without limit and without seeking anything in return. In other words, metta is a “true love” that doesn’t revolve around “me”, “mine”, and “I.”

Just ask yourself when was the last time you even considered the happiness and well-being of not just your family, friends, partner, but ALL living beings? Metta isn’t just a nice pleasant thought or wishful thinking; it is a way of life and an attitude, a state of mind and being, and a skill that you can develop and improve with practice. By practicing it, we are literally training our minds and expanding its capacity to be kind and loving, positive and caring. We are also learning how to love in a wise way that doesn’t create suffering for ourselves and others.

And the good news is that everyone is capable of this kind of love. In the words of one wise monk, “It is a miracle that such a love exists, and that every single human being has the ability to develop it.” To start cultivating loving-kindness, you have to start with yourself first and foremost. The sincere aspiration for your own happiness and well-being is the very foundation of your happiness and all positive actions you do for yourself and the world. The Buddha once said that we can search the entire world and not find someone more deserving of loving-kindness than OURSELVES.

It’s not hard to spot people who have strong metta; in fact sometimes you can feel the energy of metta when they enter a room. And then there are those great beings who have made a profound impact on human history by embodying loving-kindness. Take a moment to think about just how powerful of an act this can be – to do our best to express and radiate kindness through our thoughts, words, and actions, at all times and at all places. Metta truly is a “love revolution”, a revolution that starts in the heart and ripples out into the world.

~Guest post by ST

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