Metta, loving-kindness, is to be started within ourselves. If we can say that we love ourselves, can we harm ourselves by having angry thoughts within ourselves? If we love a person, will we do harm to him? to love the self means to be free from selfishness, hatred, anger, etc.; and unless we ourselves possess metta within, we cannot share or radiate, we cannot send this metta to others.
Metta is not merely benevolent thought but the performing of charitable deeds, active ministry for the good of one and all; a subject not to be talked about, but to put in our being, to suffuse it within ourselves.
We are asked to be loving towards all living beings, therefore metta must go hand in hand with helpfulness, with willingness and a spirit of sacrifice for the welfare of other beings.
In the Digha Nikaya it is said by the Buddha that almost every virtue such as unselfishness, loving-sympathy and loving-kindness is included in this metta. If you have real metta you can be almost everything; you can radiate a noble, grand peace. It is this metta that attempts to break away all barriers which separate beings from one another.
Until a man stills the storm in his heart, until he radiates from within him the spirit of goodwill and loving-kindness to all, he will not find even the first step of the way to his goal.
The Buddha asks us to all beings as a mother loves her only child. Imagine a mother’s love; does she merely radiate her love in the bringing uo of her child? When a child is hungry she is watching carefully to feed it before it asks her for it. When the child is in danger she will even risk her own life; in every way she helps her child. If we can be like this model held up to the world by the Buddha, if we can do it even to a certain extent, the world will surely be a different place, happier and more peaceful.
Metta has a cooling effect like the soft touch of a gentle hand, soft but firm, without changing its sympathy; so it only creates a calm, pleasant atmosphere.
We should not expect other persons to treat us kindly first, but we ourselves should start by treating them kindly.
A person with true compassion based on understanding, confers a double blessing; he helps others with a true, pure motive, and because of his own calmness he feel happiness within himself as well as happiness in helping others.
It should be realized and remembered that the indirect enemy of compassion is grief; grief and sorrow not being compassion in the real sense of the word since they are morally weak states, whereas true compassion is morally strong and gives strength. Self-pity, being sorry for oneself, will do harm because such thoughts are of a selfish nature, and will be followed by harmful states of mind.
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