POSTCARD#48: Bangkok Airport: Man wearing a bright red shirt leans backwards with hands behind his head just as I take the photo and it looks like a heart shape. Sitting in a coffee shop at Concourse B waiting for the 8.40 pm flight to New Delhi, decided to take the photo of the interesting curved shaped roof structure and didn’t see the heart-shape till I arrived in Delhi. A happy coincidence… and Valentines Day is special this year because of the palindromic sequence of date, month and year: 14/02/2014. Coming into Delhi from the airport, in the midst of pretty fierce traffic, I thought how nice to have this kind of numerical valentine and a day of love in a city that’s normally bristling with displays of proud male plumage and all things unloved. Then, looking through the image gallery in my camera phone, I discovered the photo – a gift, there in all the noisy traffic, a reminder to see beyond the tightly controlled mind state experienced in the driver’s seat.
The contemplation on loving-kindness, metta, begins with a focus on myself, my own well-being, and using that as a point of reference, I can extend it to others: “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, so may all beings be happy and free from suffering!” Then I extend the thought of loving-kindness to a person for whom I have love and respect; and to those who are close to me. Extending then to those who are indifferent and to those disliked. It’s about the necessity of cultivating feelings of kind consideration to others; a conscious act of generosity rather than abiding with the unconscious default holding and keeping things to myself.
Arrived at the house, good to be back after two months away. Unpacked and found the Buddha’s Words on loving-kindness: the Karaniya Metta Sutta.This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace: Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful,
Not proud or demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease. Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born
May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.
[Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Buddha’s Words on Loving-Kindness (Sn 1.8), translated from the Pali by The Amaravati Sangha]
[See also the Buddhist teaching on The Four Sublime States: Contemplations on Love, metta, Compassion, karuna, Sympathetic Joy, mudita, and Equanimity, upekkha, by Nyanaponika Thera]