“ONE GREAT QUESTION underlies our experience, whether we think about it consciously or not: What is the purpose of life? I have considered this question and would like to share my thoughts in the hope that they may be of direct, practical benefit to those who read them.
I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affect this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. I don’t know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness…
From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.”- H.H. Dalai Lama on Compassion and The Individual
Our journey together through May is for Metta has been an opportunity to explore ways to create happiness and peace in ourselves, others and the world. As the Dalai Lama indicated above – at the core of being human is the desire to be happy. This is a bond we share as human beings, regardless of our outer differences. Our sense of separation, from ourselves, others and the world, is an obstacle, which most of us face as we try to create happiness in our lives. By developing and deepening our connection with our own heart and generating a foundation of loving-kindness and compassion, we have begun the process of bringing more happiness to ourselves and to all beings.
In a sense, we can view our practice of Metta, of loving-kindness and compassion, as the “medicine” that brings happiness into being. What better medicine can there be? In many cultures, the term medicine refers not only to drugs or substances, but to wisdom and the guidance of spirit. Metta is medicine for the heart and soul; it’s natural, it’s free and it’s beautiful to experience. And, as we work with the “medicine” of Metta, it’s energy pours over into others and the world. As we heal ourselves, we heal the world.
Daily Practice: As we move towards the end of May Is For Metta 2013, I hope you will take some time to honor the efforts you have been making to be more loving and compassionate. Do you foundational practices. As you begin your practice today, take a few moments to reflect on any changes you may have experienced since you began May is for Metta. How has your ability to connect with and generate the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion evolved? Spend some time in your circle of loving beings or imagining a time you were held in unconditional love. Really allow yourself to feel those energies enveloping you. When you feel ready, repeat the phrases for yourself:
- May I be happy.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be free of suffering.
- May I have ease of well-being.
When you feel ready move onto the other categories as you feel to for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, and Difficult Person. Acknowledge that in practicing for this being, you have benefitted by becoming more open-hearted and loving. As you begin each category, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.” Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with remembering to come back to your own heart center for a few moments between each category:
- May you be happy.
- May you be peaceful.
- May you be free from suffering.
- May you have ease of well-being.
If you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns. When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category. When you are ready move on to the category of All Beings.
When you feel complete, move on to the broader category of All Beings. As we extend out our practice today, let us remember the words of the Dalai Lama, that at the core, all beings wish to be happy. Let us dedicate our practice for the benefit of all beings without exception:
- May All Beings be happy.
- May All Beings be peaceful.
- May All Beings be free of suffering.
- May All Beings have ease of well-being.
To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion. Let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion. Feel these qualities filling you and surrounding you. Know that you have created a strong foundation of loving-kindness and compassion within yourself and you can now carry that wherever you go. You are a beacon of loving-kindness and compassion.
Take some time today to reflect on your practice and to explore how you would like to continue as we prepare to move into our last day of practice together.
Journal Notes: How does it feel to be a beacon of loving-kindness and compassion? What have you noticed about yourself and your practice since you began? How will you work with Metta going forward? What other practices would you like to explore? Have you taken time to honor yourself for your efforts?
Have a happy, peaceful and loving day!