A Question from the “Finding Peace” Retreat

by Deborah Cooper

The question came up at the retreat:

“What difference does it make to the world if we send out thoughts of loving kindness? Is there any evidence that it works?”

In the Metta Sutta, one of the Buddha’s teachings, he says:

“Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
so with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downward to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill will.”

 

This is a small part of the whole sutta, which you can easily access.  Many of us have been steeped in a culture of judgment where we see what is missing or wrong in ourselves and others. In order to develop the kind heart that can “cherish all beings” it is useful to do some formal loving kindness practice, to purposely bring to mind kind and friendly thoughts both for oneself and others. We can be aware of our thought processes and when we notice negativity arising we can choose to change it.  In another passage the Buddha tells us that as we reduce the amount of suffering we cause others and to ourselves, we will experience  peace and equanimity. Perhaps, eventually, like the Dalai Lama, we will be able to say:

“My religion is kindness.”

So, in other words, cultivating a loving heart will benefit not only ourselves but also those around us. Just a small way we can help our world;  but if each of us practiced this way, who knows what the cumulative effect might be?!

 

DeborahCooperBioDeborah Cooper, M.Ed., is a licensed professional counselor in private practice, and was formerly with the Samaritan Counseling Service. She has studied Mindfulness Stress Reduction at Thomas Jefferson Hospital and taught several courses in Mindfulness Meditation. She has a committed personal meditation practice.

Upcoming Classes

To register for classes in the Philadelphia area, or for further information:

Phone: 215-248-0489
Email:  deborahcooper125@gmail.com

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