Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/15/2010

Metta Meditation – Dipa Ma

I’ve been feeling  the need to refocus on metta practice proper of late as I’ve been feeling swamped by aversion and ill-will. I’m posting these instructions which I copied from Dipa Ma’s biography and have used in the past. I’ll also include them in a separate page. May we all be well, happy and peaceful!

First Stage

The first stage is to love yourself, to be a best friend to yourself. You can use the following words and mental images to guide you in generating and directing your feelings of loving-kindness.

Let me be free of enemies.

Let me be free of dangers.

Let me be free of mental anxieties.

Let me pass my time with good body and healthy mind.

“Enemies” means both outward enemies and also being an enemy to yourself. Enemies can exist in the realm of our feelings, from the slightest irritation to the full force of hatred and ill will toward self or others.

While saying these phrases silently, hold an image of yourself steadily and clearly. If you can’t visualize try to remember how you look in the mirror. If this is difficult, try actually looking in a mirror or at a recent photo of yourself until you can see yourself clearly in your mind’s eye.

Repeat the phrases in order. If your mind wanders and you forget what phrase you’re on, start from the beginning, “Let me be free of enemies.” Bringing the mind back to the phrases again and again will deepen your concentration.

It is important to drop into the meaning and feeling beneath the words, letting the words be your guide, keeping you on track and anchored in the practice. Hold the feeling of well-being for yourself in your heart and mind, along with the mental image, and continue to repeat the phrases silently to yourself for as much time as your session permits.

When it is done deeply, when you feel that you truly love yourself, when you can hold the image of yourself clearly and steadily, then if you wish, you may go on to the next stage, which is to extend loving-kindness to a good friend.

Second Stage

Using the same phrases as before, direct the loving-kindness to a good friend or teacher who has been kind to you. As you did while sending loving-kindness to yourself, now hold the image of this friend clearly and steadily in your mind, and extend loving-kindness toward him or her.

May you be free of enemies.

May you be free of dangers.

May you be free of mental anxieties.

May you pass my time with good body and happy mind.

When you find that you love your friend as yourself, or when you find that you can hold the image of the friend clearly and steadily along with the phrases, then if you wish, you may go on to the next stage.

Third Stage

The next category of beings to send loving-kindness to are called “the sufferers”-any group of beings who are suffering. Whereas before you held a stable, one-pointed image of one person, now begin to expand your focus to encompass a larger number of beings. Begin by holding in mind one whole group of beings who are suffering. Extend your loving-kindness to these beings the same way you did before with yourself and your friend.

May you be free of enemies.

May you be free of dangers.

May you be free of mental anxieties.

May you pass my time with good body and happy mind.

If spontaneous images arise of other groups of suffering people, such as people in hospitals or in wars, then it’s fine to direct your loving-kindness to them, meditating in a dynamic way with the flow changing images. Continue reciting the phrases while gradually focusing more and more on the feelings of loving-kindness behind the words.

From the foundation of truly and deeply loving yourself, see how self-love is the foundation and the fuel for loving others.  In loving yourself, you love your friend as yourself. Then you love the sufferers like your friend, which is like yourself. With continued practices all groups will merge into one.

Fourth Stage

In the fourth stage, loving-kindness and equanimity blend together. The practice is to hold a vast sense of all living beings in one’s mind and to send metta to them all equally—friends, people who suffer, people for whom you are feeling neutral, those with whom you have difficulty, all beings everywhere.

May all beings be free of enemies.

May all beings be free of dangers.

May all beings be free of mental anxieties.

May all beings pass my time with good body and happy mind.

To do this, allow your mind to become loving-kindness. Do this by attending primarily to the feeling of loving-kindness: the words and phrases you’ve used up to this point have simply been pointers to the feeling. Allow your mind to become loving-kindness, and rest in that equanimity, not favoring where it goes.

Fifth Stage

The crowning stage of metta meditation is to combine all the stages and focus for a while  on each of the stages in one meditation session. Practiced in this way, the meditation becomes like a symphony of loving-kindness in which you start with yourself, and open, open, open, until you come to rest in equanimity.

Source:

http://www.amazon.com/Dipa-Ma-Legacy-Buddhist-Master/dp/0974240559


Responses

  1. Metta bhavana is a most wonderful practice, but one that requires a lot of commitment and energy (at least, I find that so). However the benefits far outweigh the effort and energy involved I have found.


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