I read Sharon Salberg’s Loving Kindness this last week. It’s an interesting read that focuses on meditation for the purposes of improving metta, or compassion. Now, as I read this I was at first skeptical of what all this meditation might do to increase compassion. Shouldn’t there be an actual practice for compassion rather than a meditation for it? What kind of good does thinking about compassion do towards an act of compassion?
I say this with the understanding that compassion is probably the means to lasting or radical happiness. But how to come about finding compassion as a practice?
I haven’t done metta meditation, but I have considered the happiness of others as I’ve been in conversation. Thinking as I talk or listen how I would like for that person to be happy. I have noticed a difference in my present mindfulness during these conversations as all the books I’ve read so far suggest that the best way to show compassion for another person is to be present during a conversation.
So I’ve been present. Or at least more so. I don’t know if it has made a difference in the other person’s happiness, but it does seem to lend itself to more satisfying conversations, and the feeling that there is an accomplishment in simply being there.
Another point that Salzberg makes is that thinking is the root of action. When considering meditation under this guise, it makes sense that a metta meditation would assist in acting with compassion. For by thinking that you want others to be happy, or even to be happy with yourself, to be compassionate, then you’re actually thinking that act.
It’s something that’s very similar to my Christian roots. The idea that the thought precedes the action, though the Buddha precedes Christ by a few hundred years. Anyway, this is what I learned this week. Next week a return to discussion of Chris Hunter and his omnibus.