I often wonder about what we are doing here, does it make any sense? can it make a difference? why are we doing what we are doing? In the end it seems to boil down to wanting less and sharing more, if we don’t want anything, we can share everything.
One time years ago I received some advice from my meditation teacher Mother Sayamagyi, she just told me: “Have no fear”. I never forgot her words, even though I never understood fully what she meant and still don’t.
But I think I understand that fear is ever present in all of us in many forms and its effects harm us in many ways, we cannot truly share because we fear there won’t be enough left for us, we want to control because we fear uncertainty, we are jealous of other people’s success because we fear the effect it has on our self esteem, we cannot let go of our ideas because we fear losing our “identity”.
The background to the Metta Sutta.
On one occasion, some ﬁve hundred bhikkhus (monks), after obtaining an object of meditation from the Buddha went into the Himalayan forest to practise meditation. Initially, the devas residing in the trees tolerated their presence, but as they learnt that the bhikkhus would not leave so soon, the devas made fearful sights and sounds at night to frighten the bhikkhus so that they would go away. The bhikkhus were so disturbed that they got sick and could not make any progress in their meditation. They decided to leave the place and reported their experiences to the Buddha.
After surveying, the Buddha found no other suitable location for them to practice meditation than that very forest. Therefore the Buddha advised them to return to the forest and taught them the Metta Sutta as an object of meditation, as well as for their protection. Those bhikkhus returned to the forest, chanted the Metta Sutta, and practised Metta meditation. By doing so, the devas then had goodwill towards the bhikkhus and looked after them. At the end of the Rains Retreat, all the ﬁve hundred bhikkhus attained Arahantship.
The Metta Sutta
He who is skilled in good, and wishes to
attain that state of Peace, should act thus:
he should be able, upright, perfectly upright,
amenable to corrections, gentle and humble.
He should be contented, easy to support,
unbusy, simple in livelihood,
with senses controlled, discreet,
not impudent, and not greedily attached to families.
He would not commit any slight misdeeds
that other wise men might ﬁnd fault in him.
May all beings be well and safe,
may their hearts rejoice.
Whatever beings there are —
weak or strong, long or short,
big, medium-sized or small, subtle or gross,
Those visible or invisible,
residing near or far, those that have come to be
or have yet to come, (without exceptions)
may all beings be joyful.
Let one not deceive nor despise
another person, anywhere at all.
In anger and ill-will,
let him not wish any harm to another.
Just as a mother would protect her
only child with her own life,
even so, let him cultivate boundless thoughts
of loving kindness towards all beings.
Let him cultivate boundless thoughts
of loving kindness towards the whole world —
above, below and all around,
unobstructed, free from hatred and enmity.
Whether standing, walking, seated
or lying down, as long as he is awake,
he should develop this mindfulness.
This they say, is the divine abiding here.
Not erroneous with views,
endowed with virtues and insight,
with sensual desires abandoned,
he would come no more to be conceived in a womb.
Admittedly the Metta Sutta has raised the bar pretty high here, the Buddha preached the Sutta to his monks, but we should try and live up to it to the best of our ability and we will gain great benefits from our efforts and the people around us will benefit too. We should not let fear stop us from trying.