“How and why we love changes the qualities of our love. Love with loving-kindness transforms the love into a nectar of wisdom. Love with attachment transforms love into poison, into a state of afflicting emotions. Therefore, we must recognize the characteristics of the love that is loving-kindness and how to generate it in ourselves. Gampopa, one of the greatest masters of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, wrote:
‘The object of the meditation on loving-kindness is all beings. The way is wishing them to have happiness. The formula is thinking about the kindness of beings, since generation of loving-kindness depends on the remembrance of the kindness of beings’.” – Tulku Thondup
Having worked with the various individual categories, we are ready to move on to the category of All Beings. The overall intention here is to offer our practice for the benefit of all beings without exception. This expansion allows us an opportunity to move beyond separateness and creates a place for us to connect with all that is. It is here that we plant the seeds for the foundation of a deeper spiritual awakening. As we acknowledge the interconnectedness of all things through our practice, we begin to embody this awareness in all of our experiences.
Initially, it can be difficult to work with the vastness of All Beings. This category can include All Beings but can also be for specific groups of beings, such as all animals, all children, all of our sangha (spiritual community), etc. Today, we will explore expanding our practice out from a single being to groups of beings and then to All Beings. One of the difficulties that can emerge, in working with All Beings, in addition to the challenge of holding the image of a vast group, is that we can have mixed feeling about all beings. As Gampopa shared in the quote above, we do so by focusing on finding that kindness in all beings which is contained in the very essence of our being, our Buddha nature. As in all the categories, this one takes us below the surface to the deeper essence of our existence.
Daily Practice: As always, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves. Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:
- May I be free from danger.
- May I have mental happiness.
- May I have physical happiness.
- May I have ease of well-being.
When you feel ready, choose a small group at first, perhaps your family, a group of friends or a smaller community you are part of. Envision holding this group of beings in loving-kindness and compassion. You might like to imagine they are in a circle receiving loving-kindness. Begin to offer phrases for your group. You can choose whether you would like to include yourself in the group:
- May we/they be free from danger.
- May we/they have mental happiness.
- May we/they have physical happiness.
- May we/they have ease of well-being.
When you feel ready to move on to the next group, come back to your heart center for a few moments and repeat a round of phrases for yourself. Next, begin to offer loving-kindness to our virtual sangha, the May is for Metta community. Know there are around 200 people participating in various ways around the globe. Just imagine that we are all sitting together in a circle or see us spread out around the world. Begin to offer the phrases for our group:
- May we be free from danger.
- May we have mental happiness.
- May we have physical happiness.
- May we have ease of well-being.
As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases. If you continue to struggle or difficult emotions arise, return your practice to your self until your feel more settled. When you feel ready, once again offer the phrases for our group. Remember to be gentle with yourself as we expand our practice out to larger groups of beings. Sometimes it is more challenging to hold our focus and awareness on a larger group. When you feel ready to move on, center yourself in your heart once again. Connect with the loving-kindness within. And begin to repeat the phrases for All Beings:
- May all beings be free from danger.
- May all beings have mental happiness.
- May all beings have physical happiness.
- May all beings have ease of well-being.
If at any point you need to, return the practice to yourself, or perhaps choose a smaller group, such as all animals or all children. We will explore working with the category of All Beings in a variety of ways as we proceed with our practice, so be gentle as we begin. When you feel complete with your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating. Allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being to absorb the energy of loving-kindness.
Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings. Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit. Know that as you offer up the merit of your practice, you are not giving it away or losing it but you are actually generating more merit through the act of giving.
Journal Notes: What did you notice about expanding your Metta practice to multiple beings, groups and All Beings? Was it harder or easier than other categories? Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself? Have you explored using Metta as difficult feeling arise as throughout your day?
May we have a day filled with peace, harmony and beauty.