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Lions Roar : July 2015
thoughts and prepares it for the practice. EXPLAIN THAT METTA IS A PRACTICE of making wishes for our well-being and for the well-being of others. Tell her that there are four specific phrases and that we begin by reciting them for ourselves. THE FIRST PHRASE is, “May I be happy.” As she breathes in, suggest that she might like to smile. Breathing out, she can think, “May I be happy.” This does not mean that she has to be happy in this moment. She’s just experimenting with her thoughts, understanding how it feels to wish happiness for herself. THE SECOND PHRASE is “May I be safe.” Breathing in, she might like to think about something that comforts her: a stuffed animal or a hug from a special grown-up. It’s okay if her mind doesn’t want to latch onto anything too specific. Saying the words is enough. With her exhalation, she can think, “May I be safe.” THE THIRD PHRASE is “May I be strong.” Strength can be understood as having good health or the courage not to fall down when life doesn’t seem to be going our way. Breathing in, still and steady, your child can visualize herself in what- ever way feels good for her, and breathing out, she can think, “May I be strong.” THE FINAL PHRASE, “May I live with ease,” refers to freedom from suffering in both body and mind. It can be translated for a child as, “May things not be difficult for me, but if they are, may I not have too much difficulty with the difficulty.” Breathing in, she might like to envision a raft, floating effortlessly over waves as they come and go, and breathing out, she can think, “May I live with ease.” NOW, BUOYED BY GOOD FEELINGS, your child is ready to practice metta for others: some- one she loves, a neutral person, a more difficult person, and finally for all beings everywhere. Teach her to recite the same phrases for others that she used for herself. YOU MIGHT ASK YOUR CHILD, “How does practicing metta make you feel?” or “What do you like most about metta?” She may be delighted to discover that in the same way a medicine brings down a fever or a throat lozenge soothes her sore throat, metta can ease the upsets of her inner landscape. Be sure to point out this distinction, though: unlike the top-shelf elixirs of the traditional medicine chest, a healthy dose of “mettacine” is always within her reach. ♦ THE POWER OF METTA THE WORLD with everything in it that appears to us is created and perceived as such by our own conceptual mind, and shared by all beings with whom we have mental habits in common. If we can improve our mental qualities by developing loving-kindness, then the world will reflect back to us as a world of love and peace. To understand how the world can be a creation of the mind, it is useful to recognize that our mind has two aspects: ordinary mind and enlightened mind. Ordinary mind, also known in Mahayana teachings as deluded mind, is conceptual, dualistic, and emotional. Enlightened mind—also known as the awakened state or buddhanature—is the true and pure nature of the mind. For most of us, the dualistic concepts, unhealthy emotions, and obsessive sen- sations (particularly strong clinging and craving) of our ordinary mind cover the enlightened aspect of our mind. These thoughts are like coverings that obstruct us from realizing and manifesting our true nature—like clouds covering the sun. In fact, our mind can radically improve our world because the enlightened nature is inherent in our mind at this very moment, even if we can’t see it because it is covered by the deluded aspect of our mind. Every being has this potential, regardless of whether we are a human being or an ani- mal, let alone whether we are a Buddhist. So let us exert ourselves to awaken our heart of loving-kindness and turn all thoughts, senses, feelings, and deeds into the boundless energies of loving- kindness, joy, devotion, trust, and service for all. Then every step of our life will be a source for openness, peace, and joy for ourselves and others and will lead toward the realization of enlightenment. —Tulku Thondup Adapted from The Heart of Unconditional Love: A Powerful New Approach to Loving-Kindness Medita- tion (Shambhala). SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 32 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE