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Path to Nibbana - 14:Stimulate positive relationship with others

Path to Nibbana - 14:

Stimulate positive relationship with others

Siri Sudassanarama
sadaham senasuna
Ven. Dr. Mirisse Dhammika thero

According to the standard format, the next step after one’s teacher is concentrating metta on one’s own friends. Let up pause to muse on the meaning of friendship because this notion and sense of friendship is central to metta.

Another good translation for “metta” is friendliness. To practice metta is to practice friendliness. Thus, our friendships with people teach us a lot about the quality of metta. Salzberg notes:

Think about what friendship means to you, what you value most in a friend and what you would most like to offer others as a friend. Are there qualities of trust, condor, fairness, or humor that stand out as being most important to you? What kind of person would you be able to turn to if you were in need? What does it mean to you to feel “at home” with someone? What would you like others to value in you as their friend?

To be a friend to someone, we have to cultivate friendly thoughts, feelings, speech and conduct. We cannot be friends if our thoughts are egocentric and calculating, ungenerous in feelings, harsh or derisive in speech, or uncaring in

conduct. These qualities that we require in the art of friendship are precisely the qualities of metta. Hence, actual friendship are the most valuable opportunities for cultivating metta. And for this reason, a metta meditation towards our friends easily generates metta. When directing loving-kindness towards friends, we should visualize them, getting a feeling of their presence. However, a word of

caution is due here. The traditional teachings remind us to be careful about thinking of a friend towards whom we entertain sexual desire. In such case, metta may be disguised by our own sensual desires.

Next, we should concentrate on neutral people, people whom on has neither likes nor dislikes, such as our neighbor, colleagues in school and so on. Next, one may now concentrate on unfriendly people, even those with whom one may have had a temporary misunderstanding or conflict. At this stage, we have to be mindful of

our feelings towards the person who is unfriendly. Unfriendliness is never overcome by hospitality: it can only be overcome by our friendliness, compassion and forgiveness. One may concentrate on the following phrase: “I have no angry feelings towards him. May he also not have any angry feelings towards me. May he be free from danger, may he be well and happy just like I have these feelings towards myself.” Finally, the meditator comes to direct her pure thoughts towards all living beings without having any specific objects.

By practicing metta in the above way, one can reduce one’s own ego or selfishness which, according to Buddhist psychology, is the ultimate cause of all mental suffering and stress within the individual. In Chapter One, I discussed that most stresses in adolescents are caused by poor self-esteem, anxiety and lack of positive relationship with others. When adolescents practice metta, they fill their minds with thoughts of loving-kindness, compassion, and there would be little room for anger, jealousy or hatred. Therefore, this state of mind is able to

stimulate positive relationships with other people: this positive attitude also generates a strong sense of self. This strong sense of self creates mental security.

Which will not be eroded by external causes of stress such as environment and society.