Lovingkindness

Modified on: January 1, 2021


“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” (The Dalai Lama)

In the prophetic literature of the Hebrew people, the word is chesed, חֶסֶד, the defining attribute of the Divine and that to which human beings aspire. In the humanistic Confucian philosophy of China, the pictogram ren, 仁, combines the character for “human being” and the character for “two” to indicate the possibility for humane relationships between us, that which can bring a fractured world back to harmony. The spiritual traditions of India speak of ahimsa, अहिंसा, non-violence and respect for all living beings, so important as to govern all thought, speech, and action; taken further, the principle expands to loving-kindness, maitri in Sanskrit, मैत्री – in the Pali of Buddhist texts, metta.

It is a New Year, after a long, complex year now past. To begin this year, we will spend time together considering this simple, globe-encircling, life-demanding, life-changing virtue: lovingkindness. We will do so by practicing the metta meditation, using the version shared with our congregation by Judy Allen. I transcribe it below, from a message from Judy read out loud to me by my 9-year-old daughter.

We begin by expressing love for ourselves:

May you be free of suffering.
May you be at peace.
May you get ice cream.
May you know the joy of your own true nature.
May you be healed.
May you be a source of healing for all others.
May you know LOVE.

We then express love for those for whom we care:

May you be free of suffering.
May you be at peace.
May you get ice cream.
May you know the joy of your own true nature.
May you be healed.
May you be a source of healing for all others.
May you know LOVE.

And finally, we express love for those who we find difficult, in small ways and in large:

May you be free of suffering.
May you be at peace.
May you get ice cream.
May you know the joy of your own true nature.
May you be healed.
May you be a source of healing for all others.
May you know LOVE.

This year, may we know love in all the ways best for every one of us. Happy New Year—

Scott


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