Pointers for Metta Meditation part 2 of 3

This is sharing of Metta meditation stage 2 and is in tandem with the Dharma sharing session for The Life Expedition Program. In stage 2, we are progressing to a “Maha” (great) level.

Instruction for Metta Meditation Stage 2

This metta practice can be done independently or as a continuation of the stage 1 practice. As usual, before we begin the meditation, sit comfortably, adjust your posture, and relax your mind.

When doing this meditation practice, always remember not to linger on each subject in detail. Just understand that they are suffering and we move on to the next subject.

Bring forth Metta in our mind, the deep sense of unconditional goodwill and loving-kindness.

  1. Consider the hell beings, tormented by ceaseless violence. We mentally say: May you be well and happy. May you be free from suffering.
  2. Consider the Hungry Ghosts, tormented by ceaseless hunger and thirst. We mentally say: May you be well and happy. May you be free from suffering.
  3. Consider the Animals, tormented by ignorance and the environment. We mentally say: May you be well and happy. May you be free from suffering.
  4. Consider the human beings, tormented by desire, anger and ignorance. We mentally say: May you be well and happy. May you be free from suffering.
  5. Consider the demigods, tormented by jealousy. We mentally say: May you be well and happy. May you be free from suffering.
  6. Consider the gods, tormented by impermanence.  We mentally say: May you be well and happy. May you be free from suffering.

(Note: To read more about the suffering of the 6 realms, you can refer to my blog post series, entitled: “Practical Companions”)

Consider all beings in existence. We mentally say: May you be well and happy. May you be free from suffering.

Pointers for Metta Stage 2 meditation.

In Metta Meditation part 1, we familiarize ourselves with the sense of Metta in our minds. This was achieved by using people we know as our subjects of meditation.

It is important that we practice part 1 until we are completely familiar with Metta before moving on to part 2. Otherwise, part 2 will not be very useful. 

In part 2, our subject of meditation becomes more general and larger in scale. This is done by using the beings in the 6 realms of existence as our subject of meditation. When we bring up each realm during our meditation, it is important to note that the focus is still on Metta. 

Therefore, do not dwell or linger or fantasize about the beings of each realm and how they look like, or how they feel, or how they suffer. If we do that, it is no longer meditation but daydreaming.  We risk becoming overwhelmed by the scale of suffering. In a classic Mahayana Buddhist tale, the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was overwhelmed by grief for the beings in the six realms and His head split into a thousand pieces, For me, this is not just a tale of entertainment but a cautionary note for Buddhist practice.

The objective of Metta Meditation stage 2 is to make sure that our sense of unconditional goodwill and loving kindness remains equally strong as those found during stage 1 meditation. (Even though our subjects of meditation in stage 2 are a bit abstract.) 

In addition to that, it is good to have some basic Buddhist Knowledge about the sufferings of the six realms of existence. Namely: 

1) Hell Beings – ceaseless violence 

2) Hungry ghosts – ceaseless hunger and thirst 

3) Animal – ceaseless ignorance and suffering caused by their environment 4) Human – ceaseless desire, anger, and ignorance 

5) Demigods – Jealousy 

6) Gods – impermanence 

The purpose of this is to understand that all beings in samsara share a commonality. That is suffering, As mentioned earlier on, we do not want to overindulge in fantasising about suffering during our meditation. It needs to be at a balanced level. We do not want to become sad and depressed. (That will slit our head into pieces) The objective is to develop compassion and from that compassion, we are motivated to do something about it, The solution is to achieve enlightenment so that we can help ourselves so that we can help others.

In our meditative verse, we add “May you be free from suffering”, in addition to “May you be well and happy”. 

This is an expansion of Metta to Compassion (Karuna). 

The important point is to develop a sense of Metta and Karuna in our minds. And at this point of the practice, we are starting to practice equanimity. This is because our subject of meditation is ultimately, all sentient beings. 

This completes the pointers for stage 2 meditation. 

Additional Notes:  

In addition to the above, we should develop the right understanding that beings can only be free from suffering when they are free from samsara. 

Similarly, being completely well and happy can only be achieved when we attained nirvana (enlightenment). 

Thus to help ourselves and help others, we need to practice BuddhaDharma. And in some minor way, when the opportunity arises, we try to share Dharma.

Happy practicing!

May all be well and happy.

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