Announcements Announcements

DhO Hacked and Upgrade

General

ATTENTION!: It appears that our server has been hacked through this version of Liferay, meaning it is no longer secure, and so expect instability as we deal with this and attempt to upgrade to Liferay 7, which we failed to be able to do last year the last time the team attempted it, but we have no choice at this point, so bear with us as we try again. Save any long posts in a text file before posting them. You can follow me on Twitter at @danielmingram for updates if the site is down. Apologies for any complexity this causes. We will work as fast as we can. We have backups of the database, so hopefully nothing will be lost. Thanks to all helping with this complex process.

 

 

 

Message Boards Message Boards

Insight and Wisdom

Metta for Me is Empty Words

Toggle
Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 2:11 PM
I would like to work on my compassion for others. I practice metta each day (5-10 minutes) towards the end of my session (60 minutes). I've been doing this for over a year now, but the words have always felt empty to me. It reminds me of my Catholic school upbringing in which we would have to recite rosaries and prayers as penance. During the 12 years of my Catholic schooling, prayer was a chore and I was forced to do it in fear that I would go to hell after death. Sadly, many other things were used as threats as well, most likely as a method for behavioral control. 

Is there another way to work on compassion without reciting words?

Thank you!

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 2:30 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
I never really practiced Metta as such eventhough I do say before and after each sit "may this practice be of benefit to all beings".

What I think did produce/awaken compassion for me is the moment I relaised that all beings have this sense of self, as me, and we cling to it so desperatelly. Practice did this, showed what this mind is, this clinging creating the strong sense of self that needs to struggle constantly.

Watching this mind unfold its reality will awaken compassion for one self and all other beings. 

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 2:55 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Have you tried doing the metta meditation at the beginning of your session?

And can you describe how you are doing it? What are the words?

Is this any help?:


"Can't Get the Feeling to come up? Some tips and tricks from other meditators"
https://www.dhammasukha.org/cant-find-the-feeling.html

It refer's to this type of metta meditation:
https://www.dhammasukha.org/beginner---lovingkindness.html

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 2:49 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Have you tried doing the metta meditation at the beginning of your session?

And can you describe how you are doing it? What are the words?


I have not tried it at the beginning of my sessions. I usually say...

"May I be free from suffering. May I be free from ill will. May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be filled with happiness. May my heart and mind become awakened and free."

I then say this for the other three members of my immediate family.

Thanks!

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 2:53 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Kelly, I have the same exact same problem. I was taught metta by the metta master herself, Sharon Salzberg. I have tried for years but like you the words don't mean a thing and I don't feel a thing. Se taught me:

May you be safe
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you live with ease

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 2:58 PM as a reply to Sam Gentile.
Sam Gentile:
Kelly, I have the same exact same problem. I was taught metta by the metta master herself, Sharon Salzberg. I have tried for years but like you the words don't mean a thing and I don't feel a thing. Se taught me:

May you be safe
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you live with ease

I almost feel like there is some trauma or blockage that needs to be released in order for compassion to flow.

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 4:03 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Kelly Gordon Weeks:
Jim Smith:
Have you tried doing the metta meditation at the beginning of your session?

And can you describe how you are doing it? What are the words?


I have not tried it at the beginning of my sessions. I usually say...

"May I be free from suffering. May I be free from ill will. May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be filled with happiness. May my heart and mind become awakened and free."

I then say this for the other three members of my immediate family.

Thanks!

Try this: Think of someone you love. Visualize them. Observe the feeling of love you feel for them. It could also be an animal or a spiritual figure. That's all. No script. Just observe the feeling of love you feel for one other being. You don't have to do this during your meditation session, you can try it when you are lying in bed going to sleep.

It might not work every time you try it there are all sorts of things that can interfere with your brain chemistry that can affect it, (diet, stress, etc). If it isn't working on a particular day, don't worry about it just stop and try again on another day. But if it works sometimes, then keep trying every day.

After a number of sessions if this works with one being, you can add another being. Over the course of a number of sessions add more people, add people you are not as close to - gradually widening to groups of people and eventually to all beings.

Later on, if you want to add a script to help you remember everyone and all the groups, make one up yourself, something that means something to you. But also visualize and observe your feelings. If you feel love at the beginning of a session but the feeling stops before you get to everyone on your list, then stop. Don't push it if you don't feel it. Stick to what you can sincerely feel love for. If that means you stick with one person that's okay. Metta is metta.

If you have trouble with one being, think of yourself, visualize yourself, think of compassion for yourself for all the difficulties you've had in life. Then try to feel love for yourself. If that works move on to one other being etc as above. (You can do this for yourself even if you are able to feel love for another being). Again no script, just visualize and observe  your feelings.

If you have trouble finding a being to love, it can be anyone from  your past, they don't have to be alive, it can be someone from a novel or movie you feel compassion for, you can even make up a fictional person. The point is to find something that triggers the feeling of love when you think about them. You can even try an object to start with, like maybe your first car. Some people believe all matter is conscious., and everything that exists or existed in the physical plane also exists eternally in the spiritual plane. So whatever you love most can work to get the process started.

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 3:20 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Why not throw in some tantra? The classic Tibetan practice of Tonglen is great. Here is Pema Chodron' s version of it:

http://static1.squarespace.com/static/57b4bb3a6b8f5b5b2c74b3d0/t/57bcde9f03596ed5dc891229/1471995552506/TONGLEN+INSTRUCTION+by+Pema+Chödrön.pdf%C2%A0%C2%A0

What you're really hoping for here is reducing your "self-cherishing". I have had great success with Tonglen personally, as well as favorable reports with those I have shared it with.

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 5:40 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Kelly Gordon Weeks:
I would like to work on my compassion for others. I practice metta each day (5-10 minutes) towards the end of my session (60 minutes). I've been doing this for over a year now, but the words have always felt empty to me. It reminds me of my Catholic school upbringing in which we would have to recite rosaries and prayers as penance. During the 12 years of my Catholic schooling, prayer was a chore and I was forced to do it in fear that I would go to hell after death. Sadly, many other things were used as threats as well, most likely as a method for behavioral control. 

Is there another way to work on compassion without reciting words?

Thank you!

Hi Kelly, 

What you describe is an issue that many, especially Westerners, have difficulty with initially when practicing Metta. This is especially so when the practice is directed at oneself. There are various arguments as to why this is so in our culture, but the point is that your experience is pretty normal.

Basically, the objective of Metta isn't to perfectly recite certain words or follow some script, but to generate good feeling in the body. This serves to train and rewire the mind to incline itself towards being happy and feeling good. In turn, this supports our everyday well-being and makes formal insight practice a bit easier and more pleasurable. It just feels good to feel good, y’know?

I would encourage you to try out lots of different things in your Metta practice and find something that works for you, that helps you feel good, regardless of whether you are following certain words or practices that others have taught you. It could take a bit of exploration, and not everything will work every time you try it, so the key here is to be open to different things and have a patient, long-term outlook of getting good at this stuff. Our culture doesn’t do a particularly good job of teaching us how to feel good, so it’s something we have to learn, slowly.


Some ideas you could try:

- If words aren’t feeling particularly effective, you can place your hands gently on the heart area and feel any sense of warmth or pleasure there or elsewhere in the body. You can combine this somatic feeling with words or not.

- You can try chanting or singing words or phrases. Try making up a little ditty that feels fun and nice to sing over and over.

- You can simply recite a single word instead of a phrase. Try just dropping in “Happy” or “Peaceful” every few seconds instead of something longer.

- If you don’t feel compassionate towards yourself, or if the words aren’t landing and feeling empty, there’s no need to force yourself to feel these things. Simply put, the heart just isn’t always going to be open to what’s happening in experience all the time. You can try something different such as “May I, at some point in the future, at a pace that’s right for me, be happy.” or “May I give myself permission to feel peaceful and calm at some point in the future, when the time is right.”

- You can try sending Metta to someone else other than yourself. A pet, tree or a cute animal you really like could be a good place to start. Someone you don’t know very well (a cashier at the grocery store or mailman), a casual acquaintance, a teacher, spiritual leader or a more vague category (all sentient beings) could be worth trying. Sending Metta towards people who are close to you (romantic partners, close family, people who have wronged you) may not be the best place to start, as we all have lots of emotional knots around people like this.


In summary, there’s no prescribed way to do Metta that you need to follow to the tee. Explore different things and find something skillful that generates good feeling in your body and mind. This could take a while, and there’s no rush. May you be happy and at peace.
 

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 4:04 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Kelly Gordon Weeks:
I almost feel like there is some trauma or blockage that needs to be released in order for compassion to flow.

I have a similar issue. It's hard to feel loving-kindness/compassion for others until you feel loving-kindness/compassion towards yourself. For loving-kindness you need to take some time to be kind to yourself, whatever that means for you (long baths, more sleep, samatha etc). Once you feel a bit better about yourself then you start to feel better about others. For compassion you need to acknowledge and understand your own suffering, then you will naturally start to do the same for others as well.

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 4:25 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Kelly Gordon Weeks:
I would like to work on my compassion for others. I practice metta each day (5-10 minutes) towards the end of my session (60 minutes). I've been doing this for over a year now, but the words have always felt empty to me. It reminds me of my Catholic school upbringing in which we would have to recite rosaries and prayers as penance. During the 12 years of my Catholic schooling, prayer was a chore and I was forced to do it in fear that I would go to hell after death. Sadly, many other things were used as threats as well, most likely as a method for behavioral control. 

Is there another way to work on compassion without reciting words?

Thank you!

aloha kelly,


   To realize that words are empty is real progress. To realize that they are (virtually always - does the name pavlov ring a bell? -) used as behavior control is true insight.

   The real practice of compassion involves a copernican revolution in thinking, a paradigm shift.

   Copernicus realized that the sun was the center of the system of planetary orbits, and that the earth was just another planet, rather than the center of the universe. Just so, the sun of our endeavors is god, the more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts collective mind of all life and its extensions (environment).

    It is not enough to turn away from words and adopt the virtues themselves, as humans exhibit them, because we are only human after all, all too human.

   It is god alone who is virtuous. God alone is the compassionate one, the merciful, just, true, beautiful, kind, selfless, etc, etc - all the beautiful names are god's alone.

   What this means for a way of practice is that we can see these virtues in terms of the liberation of all sentient beings, as though we participate in the flow of the Way that liberates, supports and nurtures all being(s). God is infinitely compassionate, infinitely wise, infinitely just, infinitely patient. God is the apple tree bearing fruit for all who want it, the rain which falls on everyman's house, the ground which accepts filth without complaint.

   Virtue is the nature of the universe. The earth bound practice it; the heaven bound participate in it.

terry




paper pdf available at   https://spaef.org/article/654/Virtue-Ethics-and-Wisdom-Tradition-Exploring-the-Inclusive-Guidance-of-the-Quran



abstract


ENAMUL CHOUDHURY
GVER, Vol. 3 No. 1, (2001)

The paper elaborates the meaning and measures of Virtue Ethics as a distinct form of moral discourse centered on cultivating an ethic of identity or character. In construing this ethic, Virtue Ethics engages in a moral discourse different from the prevalent discourses on ethics. While the discourse on Virtue Ethics remains grounded in the Aristotelian tradition of moral inquiry, the paper considers this to be a restrictive scope for advancing the meaning of the ethic of identity. The paper argues the need to enlarge the scope of inquiry by considering the wisdom traditions as sources from which virtues could be drawn. It identifies scriptures as a neglected source of wisdom, and relies on the Quran as an exemplary source for the understanding and cultivation of an inclusive ethic of identity. The paper explores the Quranic meaning of inclusion - both in terms of consciousness and conduct. Such a meaning is crucial for responding to the diversity that the emerging global consciousness and global context entails.

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 4:37 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Kelly Gordon Weeks:
Sam Gentile:
Kelly, I have the same exact same problem. I was taught metta by the metta master herself, Sharon Salzberg. I have tried for years but like you the words don't mean a thing and I don't feel a thing. Se taught me:

May you be safe
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you live with ease

I almost feel like there is some trauma or blockage that needs to be released in order for compassion to flow.


it could just be that your eyelids are in the way...

t




amazing grace
(john newton)


Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 4:53 PM as a reply to agnostic.
agnostic:
Kelly Gordon Weeks:
I almost feel like there is some trauma or blockage that needs to be released in order for compassion to flow.

I have a similar issue. It's hard to feel loving-kindness/compassion for others until you feel loving-kindness/compassion towards yourself. For loving-kindness you need to take some time to be kind to yourself, whatever that means for you (long baths, more sleep, samatha etc). Once you feel a bit better about yourself then you start to feel better about others. For compassion you need to acknowledge and understand your own suffering, then you will naturally start to do the same for others as well.
aloha 'gnostic,

   Having worked in compassion intensive jobs, frequently to the point of exhaustion, I can testify that occasionally giving yourself a well deserved break can be a good idea and one may be out of the habit.

   Most of the time, however, it is just self-indulgence and leads to more suffering. Compassion fatigue follows the extensive practice of compassion, it doesn't precede it.

   Compassion gives one perspective on one's own sufferings and makes them more bearable. The practice of kindness reminds us that the universe is essentially kind. Or the essential kindness of the universe reminds us to practice being kind.

terry




To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.

~Confucius

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 5:33 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
I always imagined metta mean very specific kinda red/pink type of impersonal love experience/energy. It just feels like the meaning of word metta. Kinda the same mechanism as for Amitabha or Tuṣita, it brings the experiences out of whatever place all the fancy experiencess come from called internetsemoticon

Proper metta practice I imagine as visualizing it and sending directly to someone or visualizing it directly in space over some volume. Large scale visualizations can drain my spiritual energy pretty quickly if I overdo the scale but I actually never really tried those with metta... In fact, now that I have realized this, I feel a bit disappointed in myself emoticon

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/29/20 7:13 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Thank you for the suggestions and encouraging words! I really want to feel more compassion and love towards my fellow beings. Anything to counteract negative/judgemental thinking! I like the idea that was suggested to think of a person/thing that I love and try to cultivate the feeling of love inside. I just tried it while I was sitting at my desk and it worked. I'll put this on the front of my practice for the next couple of weeks and report back!

One other thought. Sometimes I feel a fine line between sadness and joy. Such as right now. When I think about my six-year-old son it almost brings tears to my eyes. Not sad, but joyful tears. Is this perhaps like the idea of how nervous excitement and anxiety are two sides of the same coin? Perspective I suspect.   

Thanks again!

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/30/20 3:29 AM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Kelly Gordon Weeks:

One other thought. Sometimes I feel a fine line between sadness and joy. Such as right now. When I think about my six-year-old son it almost brings tears to my eyes. Not sad, but joyful tears. Is this perhaps like the idea of how nervous excitement and anxiety are two sides of the same coin? Perspective I suspect.   

I feel the same way too sometimes. I think it's a subconscious acknowledgement of impermanence - reflecting that each moment has a unique beauty but you can't hold onto it. 

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/30/20 3:44 AM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
Kelly Gordon Weeks:
I would like to work on my compassion for others. I practice metta each day (5-10 minutes) towards the end of my session (60 minutes). I've been doing this for over a year now, but the words have always felt empty to me. It reminds me of my Catholic school upbringing in which we would have to recite rosaries and prayers as penance. During the 12 years of my Catholic schooling, prayer was a chore and I was forced to do it in fear that I would go to hell after death. Sadly, many other things were used as threats as well, most likely as a method for behavioral control. 

Is there another way to work on compassion without reciting words?

Thank you!

Hi Kelly,  

my p.s. goes at the start, here: i'm sorry for the length of this reply, but your question goes to the heart of things, for me,
and sent me on a deep loop through the basics of Why We Practice and a hard look at my own state of the art. For that I thank you.
 

Compassion is a fruit of practice, I think, and a natural one that arises from attending to the basics of the path. It is
inherent, in a way, in the first noble truth: samsara dukkha, this life that we begin with, in which we find ourselves immersed, is dukkha, is suffering. This is what sets us on the path in the first place: a horrified realization that the suffering is systemic, pervasive, and self-perpetuating. The second truth is samudaya, the origination or arising of dukkha from tanha, from craving, desire, attachment. The Buddha says there is a way to be free of this endless cycle of craving to be free of dukkha and the dukkha that arises from the inevitable frustration of craving to be free of suffering; and so we set out on the marga, the path.
 

Basics, yes? And then more basics: in meditation we become alert to the three characteristics of what arises in our consciousness:
anicca, the transience of these arisings, dukkha, again, the suffering inherent in them, the unsatisfactoriness and frustration built in to each transient attempt to satiate our cravings, and anatta, the ultimate groundlessness of the self that suffers this perpetual and transient dukkha in every arising.
 In the phases of insight map Daniel gives in MCTB, his distillation of theravadan tradition, we pass after the early work of establishing ourselves on the path in the first jhana, and the exhilaration, in the A & P, the second jhana, of glimpsing or intuiting the third noble truth, the genuine possibility of freedom from dukkha, into the third jhana, called “the
Knowledges of Suffering,” the dukkha nanas, the dark night, and everything we thought we knew about how to be free of dukkha dissolves, which terrifies us, making us miserable, burns us out into disgust for pretty much everything, and once it has burned us into total helplessness and a sense of the futility of all remedies, brings us to a single-minded desire for deliverance from this
dukkha.
 

Again, this may seem insultingly basic, but suffering makes us all perpetual beginners. I call all this to mind here to say that i think compassion in the root sense of com-passio, literally “suffering-with,” must be rooted in the humbling experience of our own deepest suffering. Remember what made you set out on the path in the first place; remember how bad it can get as the cheap and easy solutions prove worse than useless, as we realize the misery-making dynamics of our attempts at solution themselves. Remember those moments in the dukkha nanas of something close to despair, as we recognize the craving self we are trying to be free of, in what seems at that point like every movement of consciousness.  And how did we survive that suffering? Forget about solving it, we all know that when equanimity dawned, we had no idea how it happened, why that moment was different that all the unbearable moments before it. The fire had burned up enough crap.  

And the process, by almost all accounts, is cyclic: we go spiraling through time, and every time through the cycle of awakening to the reality of suffering, seeing its arising, and setting out on the path to being free of it, we go through the same essential and very
humbling process, deepening and nuancing our knowledge of suffering, its arising, and its relent.
 I think com-passion, suffering-with, comes out of that heightened experience of suffering consciously, and the knowledge that comes with it. It’s not so much a feeling as it is a capacity for recognition: having been through the fire and the shit, we recognize others in the fire and the shit.
Having experienced a deep sense of being overwhelmed by the suffering and shit, we are able, humbly, to be with our fellow sufferers without offering cheap-ass bandaid solutions, to be with them without denying the reality of their suffering, because we have known the reality of our own. Being with someone suffering life, being with someone in the reality of the first truth, samsara
dukkha, is com-passion. We’re not offering them bullshit solutions. We know how hard the path is, and how much suffering it entails; and the path is just life lived with our eyes more open. But we’re not afraid of the suffering now, not afraid of our own suffering, we have learned to some degree to turn into it and not away from it, and so we can be with them fearlessly too, to whatever degree we are capable of that, suffering with them without running away from that suffering, or trying to sugar-coat it. In the moment of real encounter with someone who is suffering deeply, just being with them long enough for them to realize your presence is a lot. Think of a sickbed, or a death bed, as the extreme cases when the basics are clearest: we just show up. What does our presence bring to relieving the person’s suffering, or even dying? Nada. The world grinds on and even the Buddha sickened, aged, and died. But we all know the beauty of those priceless moments of suffering-with, of just being there with someone as a fellow human being, in the face of the world’s worst. Think of someone who was capable of being with you when things seemed worst, someone whose very presence in grief or pain or despair helped you accept the reality of the suffering without adding to the burden of it. The healing in that fearless, unhurried acceptance of the shared moment of fire and shit is most of what com-passion is. That, and the occasional bit of black humor, lol.
 

Until all sentient beings are saved, as the Boddhisattva vow has it. We’re not the ones saving anyone. I don’t even know what “saved” might mean. We’re just here until the fire has burned up enough crap, here as much as we can stand it, just like everyone, with as little denial as we can stand, and as little bullshit as we can manage. We’re just here, suffering-with, at best, on the path until the path goes out like a candle. We can reassess our technique, maybe, after a few eons, and possibly tweak it, but that seems like the state of the art of com-passion to me at the moment. 

Again, forgive me for the density and length here. But this is where it gets interesting, for me. Thanks again for opening the can of worms, lol.

love, tim

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/30/20 3:52 AM as a reply to agnostic.
agnostic:
Kelly Gordon Weeks:

One other thought. Sometimes I feel a fine line between sadness and joy. Such as right now. When I think about my six-year-old son it almost brings tears to my eyes. Not sad, but joyful tears. Is this perhaps like the idea of how nervous excitement and anxiety are two sides of the same coin? Perspective I suspect.   

I feel the same way too sometimes. I think it's a subconscious acknowledgement of impermanence - reflecting that each moment has a unique beauty but you can't hold onto it. 

The Japanese language has a number of words for the fleeting shimmering moments of joy balanced against inherent sadness, the sweetnesses of life, framed piercingly and poignantly by the lifelong sadness of never getting it right for good. "mono no aware" is the one I remember---
 
from wikipedia: mono no aware, (物の哀れ, もののあはれ), literally "the pathos of things", and also translated as "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence (無常, mujō), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life. "Mono-no aware: the ephemeral nature of beauty – the quietly elated, bittersweet feeling of having been witness to the dazzling circus of life – knowing that none of it can last. It’s basically about being both saddened by and appreciative of transience – and also about the relationship between life and death. In Japan, there are four very distinct seasons, and you really become aware of life and mortality and transience. You become aware of how significant those moments are.”

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/30/20 1:55 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
It reminds me of my Catholic school upbringing in which we would have to recite rosaries and prayers as penance. During the 12 years of my Catholic schooling, prayer was a chore and I was forced to do it in fear that I would go to hell after death. Sadly, many other things were used as threats as well, most likely as a method for behavioral control. 


I don't know if that works for you, maybe it could be too much, but I only can speak what kind of way worked for myself to create a feeling of metta towards myself.

Have you tried closing your eyes, imagining yourself sitting, or kneeling in this catholic school, day after day, being tortured and left alone for all this years. For what, for nothing? Imagine this poor little fellow, kneeling there on the cold floor with folded hands, praying to the lord for help, begging him over and over again to help you out of your misery, waiting, praying, waiting praying, ..., and still no answer. Left alone in such a dark place. Nobody here to help, even if you are screaming, maybe not out loud, but can really nobody hear your inner screams, can nobody see how much you are in pain? How much suffering do you still have to take, till someone finally will hear your prayers?

Now imagine, that you are the person, seing this poor little kid, kneeling there and praying, full of fear and misery, waiting for someone to be seen and taken care of. Can you see his/her fear, can you feel the sorrow he/she is feeling. Can you allow all the pain this kid is feeling entering your heart? Can you allow this little child to touch your own wounds? Can you feel his/her pain? Can you hold that pain gentle in your heart? And then, imagine, what would this child need right now? Does he/she needs a hug, or a caring person, that probably tells him/her "Hey little guy, I'm here for you, I'm holding you, I care for you, I don't let you down, I can feel what you feel - and that hurts,...". Open up now to this little child, give him/her everything what he/she kneeds right now, just be there for him/her.

I don't know if that works for you,but for me, opening up to my own pain and wounds generated compassion towards myself over time. Just like you, all the wishes like "may I be happy, may I be free from sufferiung, etc." didn't work for me, because I guess I had to come in touch with all those parts I didn't wanted to touch for a long time, because of fear and ignorance. If you can allow yourself being present with those parts, you can make peace with them. And then compassion towards yourself will arise. At least this is working for me. Don't know if it works for you,but why not give it a try?

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/30/20 2:16 PM as a reply to Georg S.
Dogs tho.  Never fails to get me going.

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/30/20 11:10 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:
Kelly Gordon Weeks:
I would like to work on my compassion for others. I practice metta each day (5-10 minutes) towards the end of my session (60 minutes). I've been doing this for over a year now, but the words have always felt empty to me. It reminds me of my Catholic school upbringing in which we would have to recite rosaries and prayers as penance. During the 12 years of my Catholic schooling, prayer was a chore and I was forced to do it in fear that I would go to hell after death. Sadly, many other things were used as threats as well, most likely as a method for behavioral control. 

Is there another way to work on compassion without reciting words?

Thank you!

Hi Kelly,  

my p.s. goes at the start, here: i'm sorry for the length of this reply, but your question goes to the heart of things, for me,
and sent me on a deep loop through the basics of Why We Practice and a hard look at my own state of the art. For that I thank you.
 

Compassion is a fruit of practice, I think, and a natural one that arises from attending to the basics of the path. It is
inherent, in a way, in the first noble truth: samsara dukkha, this life that we begin with, in which we find ourselves immersed, is dukkha, is suffering. This is what sets us on the path in the first place: a horrified realization that the suffering is systemic, pervasive, and self-perpetuating. The second truth is samudaya, the origination or arising of dukkha from tanha, from craving, desire, attachment. The Buddha says there is a way to be free of this endless cycle of craving to be free of dukkha and the dukkha that arises from the inevitable frustration of craving to be free of suffering; and so we set out on the marga, the path.
 

Basics, yes? And then more basics: in meditation we become alert to the three characteristics of what arises in our consciousness:
anicca, the transience of these arisings, dukkha, again, the suffering inherent in them, the unsatisfactoriness and frustration built in to each transient attempt to satiate our cravings, and anatta, the ultimate groundlessness of the self that suffers this perpetual and transient dukkha in every arising.
 In the phases of insight map Daniel gives in MCTB, his distillation of theravadan tradition, we pass after the early work of establishing ourselves on the path in the first jhana, and the exhilaration, in the A & P, the second jhana, of glimpsing or intuiting the third noble truth, the genuine possibility of freedom from dukkha, into the third jhana, called “the
Knowledges of Suffering,” the dukkha nanas, the dark night, and everything we thought we knew about how to be free of dukkha dissolves, which terrifies us, making us miserable, burns us out into disgust for pretty much everything, and once it has burned us into total helplessness and a sense of the futility of all remedies, brings us to a single-minded desire for deliverance from this
dukkha.
 

Again, this may seem insultingly basic, but suffering makes us all perpetual beginners. I call all this to mind here to say that i think compassion in the root sense of com-passio, literally “suffering-with,” must be rooted in the humbling experience of our own deepest suffering. Remember what made you set out on the path in the first place; remember how bad it can get as the cheap and easy solutions prove worse than useless, as we realize the misery-making dynamics of our attempts at solution themselves. Remember those moments in the dukkha nanas of something close to despair, as we recognize the craving self we are trying to be free of, in what seems at that point like every movement of consciousness.  And how did we survive that suffering? Forget about solving it, we all know that when equanimity dawned, we had no idea how it happened, why that moment was different that all the unbearable moments before it. The fire had burned up enough crap.  

And the process, by almost all accounts, is cyclic: we go spiraling through time, and every time through the cycle of awakening to the reality of suffering, seeing its arising, and setting out on the path to being free of it, we go through the same essential and very
humbling process, deepening and nuancing our knowledge of suffering, its arising, and its relent.
 I think com-passion, suffering-with, comes out of that heightened experience of suffering consciously, and the knowledge that comes with it. It’s not so much a feeling as it is a capacity for recognition: having been through the fire and the shit, we recognize others in the fire and the shit.
Having experienced a deep sense of being overwhelmed by the suffering and shit, we are able, humbly, to be with our fellow sufferers without offering cheap-ass bandaid solutions, to be with them without denying the reality of their suffering, because we have known the reality of our own. Being with someone suffering life, being with someone in the reality of the first truth, samsara
dukkha, is com-passion. We’re not offering them bullshit solutions. We know how hard the path is, and how much suffering it entails; and the path is just life lived with our eyes more open. But we’re not afraid of the suffering now, not afraid of our own suffering, we have learned to some degree to turn into it and not away from it, and so we can be with them fearlessly too, to whatever degree we are capable of that, suffering with them without running away from that suffering, or trying to sugar-coat it. In the moment of real encounter with someone who is suffering deeply, just being with them long enough for them to realize your presence is a lot. Think of a sickbed, or a death bed, as the extreme cases when the basics are clearest: we just show up. What does our presence bring to relieving the person’s suffering, or even dying? Nada. The world grinds on and even the Buddha sickened, aged, and died. But we all know the beauty of those priceless moments of suffering-with, of just being there with someone as a fellow human being, in the face of the world’s worst. Think of someone who was capable of being with you when things seemed worst, someone whose very presence in grief or pain or despair helped you accept the reality of the suffering without adding to the burden of it. The healing in that fearless, unhurried acceptance of the shared moment of fire and shit is most of what com-passion is. That, and the occasional bit of black humor, lol.
 

Until all sentient beings are saved, as the Boddhisattva vow has it. We’re not the ones saving anyone. I don’t even know what “saved” might mean. We’re just here until the fire has burned up enough crap, here as much as we can stand it, just like everyone, with as little denial as we can stand, and as little bullshit as we can manage. We’re just here, suffering-with, at best, on the path until the path goes out like a candle. We can reassess our technique, maybe, after a few eons, and possibly tweak it, but that seems like the state of the art of com-passion to me at the moment. 

Again, forgive me for the density and length here. But this is where it gets interesting, for me. Thanks again for opening the can of worms, lol.

love, tim

This is beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

-Kelly

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
10/31/20 10:29 PM as a reply to Kelly Gordon Weeks.
I had the same problem for years. I got diddly squat out of saying the words. I felt particularly discouraged after reading Sharon Salzberg's book. I felt that I read a whole book and worked through the suggested practice and.. nada! 

I'll tell you what worked for me. One of my teachers recently went on a four-week metta retreat. She told me that they stuck to the "dear friend" as the object of a week. Then, Bhante Vimalaramsi, who I started reading shortly after my teacher told me her experience, also suggested just staying with one spiritual friend for a very long time (https://library.dhammasukha.org/uploads/1/2/8/6/12865490/the_path_to_nibbana__d_johnson_f18.pdf) . So I tried it, and found it much easier. Directing metta toward myself just seems unnatural. Also, this business of flipping from one class of person to the next feels contrived. I just pick one specific friend, who I rarely see, and hope that he's happy. I may internally verbalize a few things (like, "hope you're enjoying yourself," "hope things are going well," "hope you're getting laid," "hope you have a nice lunch," and so on) but not as a mantra. I'm just trying to keep in my mind that this is a person who I wish well. This is a person who I have seen both happy and sad, and I hope he is happy. It's very helpful for me to smile during this, even if the smile is "fake." Also, when my mind wanders away, I make it a rule to first really relax my face, head, and shoulders, and then return to smiling, and only then return to picturing my friend and wishing him well. 

I think this works for me because it's honest. I actually wish this guy well. But I don't feel any sense of obligation towards him, I don't care very much what he does or does not think of me, etc. But he's not just some random neutral person. So the good will comes naturally. And once I notice that sense of good will, I can focus on it, and amplify it. Also, because it is the same guy, each time that I start a metta practice, it's easy to remember what he looks like, what he enjoys, etc.

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
11/4/20 1:24 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:
Kelly Gordon Weeks:
I would like to work on my compassion for others. I practice metta each day (5-10 minutes) towards the end of my session (60 minutes). I've been doing this for over a year now, but the words have always felt empty to me. It reminds me of my Catholic school upbringing in which we would have to recite rosaries and prayers as penance. During the 12 years of my Catholic schooling, prayer was a chore and I was forced to do it in fear that I would go to hell after death. Sadly, many other things were used as threats as well, most likely as a method for behavioral control. 

Is there another way to work on compassion without reciting words?

Thank you!

Hi Kelly,  

my p.s. goes at the start, here: i'm sorry for the length of this reply, but your question goes to the heart of things, for me,
and sent me on a deep loop through the basics of Why We Practice and a hard look at my own state of the art. For that I thank you.
 

Compassion is a fruit of practice, I think, and a natural one that arises from attending to the basics of the path. It is
inherent, in a way, in the first noble truth: samsara dukkha, this life that we begin with, in which we find ourselves immersed, is dukkha, is suffering. This is what sets us on the path in the first place: a horrified realization that the suffering is systemic, pervasive, and self-perpetuating. The second truth is samudaya, the origination or arising of dukkha from tanha, from craving, desire, attachment. The Buddha says there is a way to be free of this endless cycle of craving to be free of dukkha and the dukkha that arises from the inevitable frustration of craving to be free of suffering; and so we set out on the marga, the path.
 

Basics, yes? And then more basics: in meditation we become alert to the three characteristics of what arises in our consciousness:
anicca, the transience of these arisings, dukkha, again, the suffering inherent in them, the unsatisfactoriness and frustration built in to each transient attempt to satiate our cravings, and anatta, the ultimate groundlessness of the self that suffers this perpetual and transient dukkha in every arising.
 In the phases of insight map Daniel gives in MCTB, his distillation of theravadan tradition, we pass after the early work of establishing ourselves on the path in the first jhana, and the exhilaration, in the A & P, the second jhana, of glimpsing or intuiting the third noble truth, the genuine possibility of freedom from dukkha, into the third jhana, called “the
Knowledges of Suffering,” the dukkha nanas, the dark night, and everything we thought we knew about how to be free of dukkha dissolves, which terrifies us, making us miserable, burns us out into disgust for pretty much everything, and once it has burned us into total helplessness and a sense of the futility of all remedies, brings us to a single-minded desire for deliverance from this
dukkha.
 

Again, this may seem insultingly basic, but suffering makes us all perpetual beginners. I call all this to mind here to say that i think compassion in the root sense of com-passio, literally “suffering-with,” must be rooted in the humbling experience of our own deepest suffering. Remember what made you set out on the path in the first place; remember how bad it can get as the cheap and easy solutions prove worse than useless, as we realize the misery-making dynamics of our attempts at solution themselves. Remember those moments in the dukkha nanas of something close to despair, as we recognize the craving self we are trying to be free of, in what seems at that point like every movement of consciousness.  And how did we survive that suffering? Forget about solving it, we all know that when equanimity dawned, we had no idea how it happened, why that moment was different that all the unbearable moments before it. The fire had burned up enough crap.  

And the process, by almost all accounts, is cyclic: we go spiraling through time, and every time through the cycle of awakening to the reality of suffering, seeing its arising, and setting out on the path to being free of it, we go through the same essential and very
humbling process, deepening and nuancing our knowledge of suffering, its arising, and its relent.
 I think com-passion, suffering-with, comes out of that heightened experience of suffering consciously, and the knowledge that comes with it. It’s not so much a feeling as it is a capacity for recognition: having been through the fire and the shit, we recognize others in the fire and the shit.
Having experienced a deep sense of being overwhelmed by the suffering and shit, we are able, humbly, to be with our fellow sufferers without offering cheap-ass bandaid solutions, to be with them without denying the reality of their suffering, because we have known the reality of our own. Being with someone suffering life, being with someone in the reality of the first truth, samsara
dukkha, is com-passion. We’re not offering them bullshit solutions. We know how hard the path is, and how much suffering it entails; and the path is just life lived with our eyes more open. But we’re not afraid of the suffering now, not afraid of our own suffering, we have learned to some degree to turn into it and not away from it, and so we can be with them fearlessly too, to whatever degree we are capable of that, suffering with them without running away from that suffering, or trying to sugar-coat it. In the moment of real encounter with someone who is suffering deeply, just being with them long enough for them to realize your presence is a lot. Think of a sickbed, or a death bed, as the extreme cases when the basics are clearest: we just show up. What does our presence bring to relieving the person’s suffering, or even dying? Nada. The world grinds on and even the Buddha sickened, aged, and died. But we all know the beauty of those priceless moments of suffering-with, of just being there with someone as a fellow human being, in the face of the world’s worst. Think of someone who was capable of being with you when things seemed worst, someone whose very presence in grief or pain or despair helped you accept the reality of the suffering without adding to the burden of it. The healing in that fearless, unhurried acceptance of the shared moment of fire and shit is most of what com-passion is. That, and the occasional bit of black humor, lol.
 

Until all sentient beings are saved, as the Boddhisattva vow has it. We’re not the ones saving anyone. I don’t even know what “saved” might mean. We’re just here until the fire has burned up enough crap, here as much as we can stand it, just like everyone, with as little denial as we can stand, and as little bullshit as we can manage. We’re just here, suffering-with, at best, on the path until the path goes out like a candle. We can reassess our technique, maybe, after a few eons, and possibly tweak it, but that seems like the state of the art of com-passion to me at the moment. 

Again, forgive me for the density and length here. But this is where it gets interesting, for me. Thanks again for opening the can of worms, lol.

love, tim


   This is actually the best explanation of dan's work that I have read here.

   Love ya, tim. Great testimony.

terry





from "crazy clouds; zen radicals, rebels, and reformers" ed perle, steger


Once, while selling bamboo baskets, the Layman slipped and fell. When his daughter Ling-chao saw this, she ran to her father's side and threw herself down on the ground next to him.

"What are you doing?" cried P'ang.

"I saw dad fall to the ground, so I'm helping," she replied.

"Luckily no one was looking," said P'ang with a smile.

RE: Metta for Me is Empty Words
Answer
11/4/20 1:26 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:
agnostic:
Kelly Gordon Weeks:

One other thought. Sometimes I feel a fine line between sadness and joy. Such as right now. When I think about my six-year-old son it almost brings tears to my eyes. Not sad, but joyful tears. Is this perhaps like the idea of how nervous excitement and anxiety are two sides of the same coin? Perspective I suspect.   

I feel the same way too sometimes. I think it's a subconscious acknowledgement of impermanence - reflecting that each moment has a unique beauty but you can't hold onto it. 

The Japanese language has a number of words for the fleeting shimmering moments of joy balanced against inherent sadness, the sweetnesses of life, framed piercingly and poignantly by the lifelong sadness of never getting it right for good. "mono no aware" is the one I remember---
 
from wikipedia: mono no aware, (物の哀れ, もののあはれ), literally "the pathos of things", and also translated as "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence (無常, mujō), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life. "Mono-no aware: the ephemeral nature of beauty – the quietly elated, bittersweet feeling of having been witness to the dazzling circus of life – knowing that none of it can last. It’s basically about being both saddened by and appreciative of transience – and also about the relationship between life and death. In Japan, there are four very distinct seasons, and you really become aware of life and mortality and transience. You become aware of how significant those moments are.”




ETERNITY
(william blake)

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses a joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.