Help me understand the reality of Metta

Maybe enlightenment is too much of a big word to use as i am just a normal lay person that still does both wholesome and unwholesome acts everyday in my life. But is Metta a must-have and must-cultivate on our journey to enlightenment?

I’ve tried being mindful and observant of my inner thoughts and feelings ever since i took up meditation. And like many of us, we know Metta is something that is almost synchronized with Buddhism. Some call it love, some call it compassion but i guess the better word to use is Metta.

I noticed Metta (or rather in this case, Metta in me myself) has to be maintained. And it doesn’t “feel” right to me. I felt as if Metta is something unreal and needs extra energy and channeled thoughts to be Metta.

But wait a minute, it does not mean i do not have compassion for people or the world, what i noticed inside me is a kind of -sympathy mixed with kindness- kind of feeling and thought instead of Metta.

I noticed that angry thoughts are triggered, they arise, sustain for a certain time and cease. But Metta on the other hand needs to be thoughts-channeled and maintain. I could do something good for someone but it’s not due to Metta but just because i think it is the right thing to do.

There are times i would practice Metta, but it would just last a few days and i fell back to feeling nothing. Neither hatred nor metta. Then one day something inside me tells me that Metta is not real, because anything that needs to be maintained, is not real.

So is this just because of my character inclined tendencies or is Metta really not what it seems after so much of hoo-ha over it?

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Like anything else the feeling of metta is conditioned. When the right conditions are there the feeling will arise. If the conditions seize the feeling seizes.

Who says this is not “real”? Or what other kind of “reality” can there be?

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Ajahn Sona recently did a nice series on the Brahmaviharas. Maybe this might help.

In my experience metta can just be a spark of goodwill. The effort to cultivate that spark make the big warm fire you might consider as metta.

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Nothing when performed for the first time ‘feels right’. Either we let nature run its course (ie- strengthen defilements, usually) and develop our minds (bhavana) and it wont feel well used or easy at first when we develop these wholesome emotions through meditation. But over the years, it will become a part of how you feel and it will be natural and feel natural to you. Do a little bit- don’t try to maintain it throughout the day- let is come and go. When it comes, just hold on to it a little, and let go. Make it a habit, rather than forcing it in on your mind.

with metta

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