Metta is a Buddhist practice, which translates as gentle-friendliness or loving-kindness. The story goes that a group of monks were meditating in a haunted forest, and the shrieks and moans of the ghosts frightened them so much they went to the Buddha and begged not to be asked to return. Buddha said that they must return to the forest but that he would give something to return with: the gift of Metta practice. And so they returned, and with Metta healed the ghosts of the forest, and were able to practice in peace.
So, for City Loops, I would like to share the gift of Metta. It is a practice I have heard of only recently, and as I am a pick-a-path practitioner, while I do not describe myself as Buddhist, I find that many of the philosophies and practices are extremely intelligent, kind and useful. I am no expert, I share what I have learned with an open heart.
Much of what I have learned of Buddhism has come from Tara Brach – listen to her talk on Metta here.
Metta works in concentric circles, and the phrases are short and are repeated as many times as necessary. The phrases I have used for this project are the most simple ones I have found.
As on the plane when the oxygen masks drop down, you start with yourself:
May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be strong
May I live with ease
Once you feel that you can breathe, you apply Metta to someone near:
May you be safe
May you be happy
May you be strong
May you live with ease
And so you work outwards from yourself, perhaps working towards practicing Metta in relation to someone you have difficulty with, always returning to yourself as needed. After some practice you will have built up enough loving-kindness to be able to say:
May all beings be safe
May all beings be happy
May all beings be strong
May all being live with ease
And really mean it.
For Metta Loops, I have chosen the medium of stickering to share the loving-kindness.
If you would like to participate in this project, please do. Make your own signs or stickers and deliver them to your corner of the world. If you would like a set of the stickers I have made please contact me with your address and I will send them to you – email for pdf, postal for real ones.