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Lions Roar : September 2017
Essence of the Buddha’s Teachings SYLVIA BOORSTEIN on loving-kindness OVER THE YEARS, I’ve changed my view of the prac- tice of loving-kindness, which the Buddha taught in the Metta Sutta. When I began practicing in the Theravada tradition forty years ago, I thought of loving-kindness as just the perfunctory ending to the practice of Vipassana (mindfulness) meditation. I think, often with dismay, of the dismissive attitude I had in my initial meet- ings with the Buddha’s sermon on loving-kindness. It seemed superficial, like a Nike ad—“Just Do It!” I thought to myself, “It’s not that easy to wish well to all beings, especially those I don’t know or don’t like. There are no instructions about how to actually do it.” I was very wrong. Now the teaching of loving-kindness has become something different to me, and I hold it in the highest esteem. I see the Metta Sutta as the summary of the Buddha’s instructions for developing the perfections of the heart, the power of clear seeing and choice, and the wisdom that promises the end of suffering. In 1995, I had the great good fortune of meeting the late Maha Ghosananda, the senior Theravada prelate of Cambodia. This was at a conference of Buddhist teachers in Dharamsala, India. I knew about his courageous work sustaining hope in Cambodian refugee camps during ter- rible times in that country. I also knew he had attended, along with other religious leaders, the ceremonies mark- ing the fiftieth anniversaries of the liberation of Auschwitz and the bombing of Hiroshima. Maha Ghosananda’s presence throughout the confer- ence was one of benevolent equanimity. He listened more than he spoke, and when he did speak, his words were calls for kindness, echoing the words of the Metta Sutta: “May all beings be peaceful, may all beings be happy.” In a moment of private conversation, I asked him, “Venerable, what are you mostly working on these days?” He said, “I am collecting signatures for a petition sup- porting a universal ban on land mines.” He reached into the sleeve of his robe and produced the petition. “Would you like to sign it?” he asked. That was a moment I’ll never forget. I had been privy to many discussions over the years about anger and activ- ism. People would ask questions like, “How can I keep my The Buddha’s Love Starting with genuine kindness to yourself, your love can expand limitlessly, just like the Buddha’s. Teachings on love and compassion by SYLVIA BOORSTEIN, PEMA KHANDRO RINPOCHE, and GEOFFREY SHUGEN ARNOLD, SENSEI, the Buddhist teachers who will lead this year’s annual Lion’s Roar retreat. Gandharan Terracotta Buddha, 3rd–4th century C.E. PRIVATECOLLECTION,MONTREAL.PHOTOBYCHRISTINEGUEST LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2017 43