Sunday, 6 May 2012

I first heard the term 'Loving Kindness' during classes teaching Buddhist Meditation.
I have to confess that I didn't think much of it.  I've always been a 'you can't learn it, or even bring it out with practice' kind of person. And to some extent, this is still true.
But over the past few years, I've started to understand better what the term really might be trying to communicate.
Have you had a friend who you just instinctively feel nothing but genuine warmth, care and empathy for? I don't have many. I'm not going to disclose my number, of course, but I can count such friends on the fingers of one hand. The others I care about, sure. But when these Select Few tell me something happy, I feel immediate, spontaneous and genuine warmth. Inside.
Like physically. That is another thing I used to think was a stupid cliche: 'Warm Inside'.
It's not!
I've enjoyed discovering this.

And conversely, if they are going through a painful time, your insides feel concern and reach out to them. If just the flow of love could heal them completely, immediately, they'd be whole again immediately.

What strikes me is how much 'Loving Kindness' permeates these relationships.
They are really beautifully and consistently kind. Not soft-headed. Not cuddly even. But full of genuine loving. kindess. You can take that term at face-value.

Now it occurred to me that although I genuinely feel this way for only a few people, my meditation teacher used to talk as if this was a skill that could be learnt. Which makes me think about it differently. Maybe I do not already have loving-kindness for all the people in my life. Or everyone I meet. But maybe it's like a kid starting to use it's legs. It can move them, and sometimes, it can make walking-like steps. Off and on, it can stand up.
But with time, it can do this more often, and then more gracefully, and then it becomes a habit.
And after that, it becomes necessary for any further progress.

When I think of it like that I am in awe of the people who practice it a lot, rather than just relying on the spontaneous and relatively isolated bursts of it that come naturally to the rest of us Spiritual Infants.

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