Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.“Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Buddha’s Words on Loving-Kindness” (Sn 1.8), translated from the Pali by The Amaravati Sangha. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 2 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.08.amar.html .
Contented and easily satisfied,
The opposite of loving kindness is anger driven by aversion and hatred. Usually, it is a feeling of dislike when we are repulsed by people or situations. Because we reject that encounter, we feel negative emotions arising in us when we cannot escape it.
If we get angry or are offended easily, one of the best antidote is the practice of contentment. Instead of expecting things to go according to our wishes and feeling angry when they do not, we simply practice contentment or acceptance. Contentment of situations as they arise.
In the past, Thailand was a land of smile because the people there lived with a motto of “Mai Pen Rai” This short phrase translate into “It is alright, don’t worry about it.” For example, when a waitress splashed water onto you due to her carelessness and you say “Mai Pen Rai” when she frantically apologizes. You are more concerned about her getting frantic than the water wetting your clothes. A kind of merciful forgiveness and acceptance of situations…..
So, we try not to glare and ask for the manager? Yes. that is the idea.
When everyone live by that motto, isn’t life easier and less stressful? That’s why they smile easily. If we are easily contented and satisfied, we have lesser chance of feeling disappointed and frustrated. Less expectation leads to less anger.
What kind of person do we become? An easy-going person that can practice Metta better.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
This next verse is very interesting because it pin-point the ill of our modern consumerism society. In our world today, we are taught that success is measured by our spending power. A bigger house or car means we are more successful? And worse of all, we are taught to keep on upgrading without any end to it! Consequently, we need to earn more and more money to support our spending.
Naturally, that leads to more work and duties. The only problem with this, is that most people do not know how to unburden their mind from the resulting workload and stress. Typically, when our mind is troubled or weighed down by financial concerns, workload, stress, and etc; there is less opportunity for it to know peace. A busy and troubled mind is not conducive for loving kindness. Instead it becomes easier to be impatient and angry. This results in a toxic spiral towards more stress and anger.
Therefore Buddha advise us to be unburdened and live simply. Not saying everyone has to downgrade their jobs and give up on promotions.
Each of us have our own balancing point and we need to determine how much duties we can take before our mind becomes burdened. Instead of a mindless pursuit for material gains, we can take a step back and learn to re-prioritize our life. Sometimes, this may lead us to discover new joys that we never thought possible. And sometimes, it can even save our life.
May all be well and happy