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Lions Roar : September 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2010 55 The Buddha firsT TaughT loving-kindness to a group of monks who had been practicing meditation in a forest. The monks were fearful that the spirits of the forest did not want them there and that the spirits were going to attack them. although the monks were probably just afraid of the dark, their fear became anger toward the forest, and their anger became hatred. and, of course, when one is feeling angry, unsafe, and resentful it becomes more and more difficult to meditate. so the group of monks went to the Buddha, asking for advice on how to deal with the perceived threat. The Buddha’s advice was the teachings of the Metta Sutta (the Loving-Kind- ness Lecture). he went into detail about the necessity of forgiving everyone for everything, and he taught the monks how to live a life of kindness, with the desire and willingness to protect others and not cause harm. The practical meditation technique for developing kindness, according to the Buddha, is focusing the mind on certain phrases by repeating them. some of the common phrases are: “May all beings be at ease,” “May all beings be safe and protected from harm,” “May all beings be met with forgiveness,” “May all beings be free from suffering,” and “May all beings be happy.” it is said that after receiving the teaching on metta the monks went back to the same place in the forest but with a new outlook. as they recited the phrases of kind- ness, the forest began to feel safe. The fear of being attacked left them and all of the beings of the forest began to appear friendly. Birds seemed to be singing sweet songs just for them; the mosquitoes seemed to leave them alone, but, when a mosquito or other bug did bite one of them, they were happy to offer some sustenance to that life form. as their hearts became kind, their environment became safe. Noah LeviNe is author of dharma Punx and against the stream. he is the found- ing teacher of the against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, with a center in Los angeles and more than twenty affiliated groups around North america. he has a master’s degree in counseling psychol- ogy and teaches meditation classes, workshops, and retreats internationally. Changes Everything Kindness When we practice loving-kindness, says Noah LeviNe, we change for the better—and so does our world. PhoTo©sTePheNaMiNi,ToroNTo