Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ten reasons why one should have metta

Ten reasons why one should have metta

bangkokpost Published:Newspaper section: Outlook

Story by V. Vajiramedhi and Translated by Narut Tangsuk and Tanya Brockelman

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V. Vajiramedhi
        Where there is sadness, there is also dharma. Thai society is in dire need of dharma, harmony and compassion, now more than ever. If we want to see lasting peace in Thailand, we must all encourage Thais to love one another and live together without feeling threatened. Peace must be based on compassion, respect for dignity, and mindfulness. In this way, we will not be misguided towards anger and hatred. Peace with love in your heart and wisdom is true peace. The following are ten reasons why we should love one another, and together we can build a foundation of eternal peace:
       Why do founders of all religions stress that human beings should live with metta or empathy? Let us consider the following reasons:

       (1) Humans and all other beings may have once been relatives in past lives.
The endless cycle of samsara (rebirth) makes it impossible to find any beginning or end. We have all been through the cycle of birth and death countless times, and our lives may have been intertwined at some point with those who are strangers to us in this life. Thus, it is unreasonable not to offer empathy to people who are likely to have once been our relatives.
       (2) All humans and beings hold the same status as inhabitants of the world.
It is true that all beings are born in different conditions, but in essence, we all fall under the same category of living creatures of the world. Therefore, it is senseless not to have empathy for each other.
       (3) Humans and all beings are bound to the rules of nature.
All beings, despite their differences, are bound to the universal law of nature, called trilakkhana (Three Characteristics). This law states that all phenomena are impermanent (aniccata); life is subject to suffering (dukkhata); and all are empty of a separate self (anattata). Everything is driven towards a more prosperous or descending path by the karma of our actions. This is already a burden for all of us, so we should not aggravate it further by hurting anyone. We should empathise with one other.
       (4) Humans and all beings are interconnected.
Since we are all interdependent, hurting one another is no different from hurting ourselves, whereas having empathy for each other is like having empathy for ourselves. There is no reason not to give empathy to others because our empathy will in turn come back to us.
       (5) Humans and all beings have fundamental needs, namely desire and happiness, and have an aversion towards suffering, punishment and death. Since all beings have the same fundamental needs, there is no reason for us not to show empathy towards one other.
       (6) Humans and all beings have personal obligations and responsibilities.
All beings have their obligations passed on to them by their parents, heritage, species, physical environment, and their occupation, all of which already bring enough hardship. The best way to coexist is to empathise with one other. We should allow others the time and space to cope with their physical conditions and pursue happiness.
       (7) The lives of humans and all beings are confined by such a short period of time.
Since every lifetime is limited, we should not commit sins or act on anger, hatred or jealousy. Allowing negativity to overpower us is an unproductive use of time. Given we have such little time in our lives, we should not engage in activities that waste time, but rather help us coexist in this world with peace and empathy.
       (8) Humans and all beings are born into the world under different conditions but become misguided by defilements, including covetousness, wrathfulness, delusion and carelessness.

       Our sinful acts must be cleansed as quickly as possible because there is no knowing when the body will deteriorate. If we fail to have empathy for each other and succumb to the influence of defilements, our sins will continue to increase. It is best for us to have empathy for one another, to always prevent the mind from causing harm.
       (9) Humans and all beings are indebted to their parents, nature and homeland.
We are all indebted to something or someone else. As our time is best spent showing empathy towards others, it is especially important to return kindness to our benefactors. If we fail to do so, the debt of our life will not be paid, and gratitude, the greatest virtue of all, will not develop.
       (10) Humans can improve and develop into the most civilised of all creatures.
The most advanced state in the evolution of the mind is awakening to liberation from the eternal cycle of suffering. As long as worldly creatures continue to quarrel, hate, envy, and hurt one another, there will be no progress towards nirvana. However, if all beings coexist with empathy and benevolence, there will always be peace. This foundation of peace will nurture the mind's potential to develop and grow towards the state of nirvana.
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