Metta practice is not about them; it is about us.
We do not love other people because they deserve it or because we want something from them. The practice of lovingkindness is for cleansing our mind stream.
Being kind is a healthy mental and emotional state to be in, and the more often we can conjure it up and sustain it, the better off we are and the better we feel.
Whilst radiating lovingkindness in all directions to all beings, the conscious mind is bright and luminous, and our unconscious mind is being subtly transformed, such that we become a kinder person, more disposed to respond with lovingkindness in the future.
Anger and hatred, on the other hand, are inherently toxic. Anytime they emerge from the depths of the psyche and flow into our active mind, they cause harm and bring about disharmony. Anger and hatred affects us as well as others. Being in a state of anger and hatred causes lasting damage to the quality of our own character. It also hurts others.
Enacting even low doses of anger such as annoyance or disapproval reinforces a toxic quality of mind and hampers our ability to love and be loved.
There is a lot that is wrong with our world, but attacking the things or the people that we don’t like or feel we have been hurt by, always leads to harm in the long run. The Buddha offers the image of a person thrusting a torch at someone upwind: the intention is to harm the other, but the torchholder is the one who gets burned.
Lovingkindness is the antidote to anger and hatred. That is why cultivating it is so beneficial.
Allowing ourselves to feel pain and vulnerability helps us access the pain and vulnerability others feel. This activates the healthiest parts of ourselves. Why should we allow anyone to obstruct that process. Why should the indisputable fact that someone has hurt us or deprived us drag us down and prevent us from being a better and kinder person? Why shouldn’t the lovingkindness we can experience permeate even the darkest corners of the heart and the world?
Lovingkindness is universal. It is not personal. This is what makes it so powerful as a tool for mental purification and emotional transformation.
Let us do our best to extend it, especially to those we consider as having hurt us, or denied us what we feel we are owed, and help bring about more love and harmony in the world.
~ Some words on loving kindness edited and adapted from a piece by Andrew Olensdzki.