To Cultivate Love Look Deep

Conflicts between people are a natural part of life. We even fight with ourselves, criticizing our past actions and denying our ability to cope with the future. Meditation doesn’t seek to erase conflicts or turn meditators into placid doormats. Instead, it teaches a path in which life’s problems are approached with understanding, patience, and love.

Vietnamese Buddhist priest, teacher, and author, Thich Nhat Hanh, offers these instructions for performing metta (lovingkindness) meditation as a path to cultivating love for oneself and others (“Cultivating Compassion” Tricycle, Spring 2015):

Metta meditation is a practice of cultivating understanding, love, and compassion by looking deeply, first for ourselves and then for others. Once we love and take care of ourselves, we can be much more helpful to others.  …

The practice of love meditation is not autosuggestion. We don’t just say, “I love myself. I love all beings.” We look deeply at our body, our feelings, our perceptions, our mental formations, and our consciousness, …

We begin with ourselves to understand our own true nature. As long as we reject ourselves and continue to harm our own body and mind, there’s no point in talking about loving and accepting others.

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