Day 9 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: Dedicating The Merit Of Our Practice

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May the earth be wholesome everywhere
The world blessed with prosperity
May the poor and destitute find wealth
And the stooping animals be freed

May every being ailing with illness
Find relief at once from suffering
May all the sickness that afflict the living
Be instantly and permanently healed

May those who go in dread, have no more fear,
May captives be unchained and set free,
And may the weak now become strong,
May living beings help each other in kindness.

May travelers upon the road,
Find happiness no matter where they go,
And may they gain, without hardship,
The goals on which their hearts are set.

From the songs of birds and the sighing of trees,
From the shafts of light and from the sky itself,
May living beings, each and every one,
Perceive the constant sound of Dharma

– Shantideva

It is customary in Buddhism and other spiritual traditions to dedicate the merit of our practice.  We ask to accomplish a twofold benefit – that our practice is for our own benefit and that of all sentient beings.  All sentient beings can include humans, animals, plants, and beings in other realms.  Dedicating merit offers our practice for the support of others, asking that the loving-kindness we generate may be beneficial to all beings and at the same time, it helps our own minds to remain firm in our dedication to cultivate compassion within ourselves.

Traditionally in Buddhism, merit is offered at the end of one’s practice.  May Is For Metta is adapted from the Buddhist practice of Metta and also incorporates heart-centered practices from other traditions.  The opening by Shantideva offers one way to work with this.  Although there are a number of traditional ways to dedicate merit, invite you to explore finding words or phrases to dedicate merit that resonate with you.

For many years now, I have had the practice of inviting an intention of benefit for myself and all those who are in need of support as I first begin my practice.  Then, at the end of my practice each day I take a few moments to dedicate the merit of my practice to any specific individuals, groups or locations in the world that I am feeling to offer it on this day and ultimately for all beings without exception.  You may wish to use the Shantideva prayer, you may wish to name those people or places you wish to support, or you may wish to simply wish to say something like this Metta prayer at the end of your practice:

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Here is another traditional way to dedicate merit; and as we have discussed with choosing the phrases, feel free to find the language that feels best for you:

  • May all beings have happiness and it’s cause.
  • May all beings be free of suffering, joyous content and at ease.
  • May all beings be balanced in equanimity towards one and all.
  • May the merit of my practice be for my own benefit and for that of all sentient beings.

For today’s practice, we will continue working with the categories of Benefactor/Mentor and Beloved; and then conclude with dedicating the merit of our practice.  Sometimes people have difficulty choosing whom to work with.  I had suggested a practice yesterday to explore by working with the heart, but also it is good to just be open and see who/what comes to mind.

The name Benefactor/Mentor connotes a certain type of person but we should not get caught up in the title.  Remember, we say choose a being because in addition to a human being, it can be an animal or something you love in nature, a tree, a river, or the mountains.  The essence of this category is that this being creates warmth in you and puts a smile on your face.

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices.  Begin by getting comfortable and settling in to your breath.  Spend a few moments centering on your heart, recalling a moment you felt immersed in unconditional love or see yourself in the center of your circle of loving beings.  Begin to send Metta to yourself by repeating the phrases you have been working with.  

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

Then, when you feel ready, bring an image of a Benefactor, a mentor, teacher, grandparent, loving animal or place in nature, into your mind.  Begin to offer loving-kindness to this being.  Before you begin the phrases offer, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Then, begin repeating the phrases for your Benefactor:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Practice for a few minutes for the Benefactor and then move onto the category of the Beloved.  Invite an image of your Beloved, a close friend or family member into your mind.  Hold them in your heart and offer this, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Then, begin to repeat the phrases for your Beloved:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Remember, if you are struggling with the practice or having difficult feelings arise, you can always return the practice to yourself for a few moments.  Then, when you feel to go back to whichever category you were working with.  Just call that being back into your mind and heart and continue your practice.  Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today.  

Take a few moment as you finish to dedicate the merit of your practice in a way that feels best for you.  If you already have a way you do this, you can just continue with it.  May Is For Metta is meant to support or enhance your existing practices.  And, if this is a new concept for you, take some time over the next week or so to explore various ways to dedicate merit until you find one that feels good for  you to continue with.  Another way to do this is to say a prayer at the end of your practice in whatever manner or tradition feels best for you.   And, be sure to check out the “Extra Credit” below.

  • May all beings have happiness and it’s cause.
  • May all beings be free of suffering, joyous content and at ease.
  • May all beings be balanced in equanimity towards one and all.
  • May the merit of my practice be for my own benefit and for that of all sentient beings.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.

  • How did it feel to work with a number of the categories?
  • What did you notice?
  • Are you remembering to return to yourself when you need to?
  • How are you feeling about your practice or exploration of Metta overall?
  • Did you explore a way to dedicate the merit of your practice?  How did that feel?

May your day be filled with happiness, love and equanimity.

Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!)

Beth


Extra Credit:

This song written by American monk, Ven. Heng Sure carries the essence of dedicating merit as well as what the overall intention of our Metta practice is centered on.  Hope you’ll take a few moments and listen.  I’ve included the words below as well.

May every living being,
Our minds as one and radiant with light,
Share the fruits of peace
With hearts of goodness, luminous and bright.

If people hear and see,
How hands and hearts can find in giving, unity,
May their minds awake,
To Great Compassion, wisdom and to joy.

May kindness find reward,
May all who sorrow leave their grief and pain;
May this boundless light,
Break the darkness of their endless night.

Because our hearts are one,
This world of pain turns into Paradise,
May all become compassionate and wise,
May all become compassionate and wise.

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About Beth Terrence

Beth Terrence is a Shaman, Facilitator, Holistic Practitioner, Speaker and Writer. With over seventeen years of experience in field of transformation and holistic health, she is a leader in providing Integrative Transformational Healing Programs For Individuals, Groups & Organization. The focus of Beth's work is to facilitate deep transformational healing, assisting her clients in living a more heart-centered, balanced and joyful life through discovering the healer within. Beth offers online transformational resources through her blog, The Heart of Awakening: Searching for a New Paradigm. She is also an author and facilitator for Heal My Voice, an international organization that helps women to heal, grow and step into greater leadership through writing and sharing their stories. To learn more about sessions, programs, teleseminars and other news, visit http://www.bethterrence.com.

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