25 June 2011

I Almost Hate to Admit It

I know it's kind of cheesy, but I keep a laminated copy of the Metta Sutra in my wallet in that window slot that usually holds a drivers license or something like that. 

I first put it in there almost a decade ago when I was preparing laminated cards for the lead chanter.  I had room in a plastic sleeve, so I typed up and printed out a copy, then sent it through the hot machine with the rest of the batch.

It has outlived three wallets (and a trip through the washing machine) so far. 

Seeing it as I open my wallet has more than once kept me from doing something boneheaded, too.  The line, "Let them not do the slightest thing that the wise would later reprove," was warning enough.  (Often, though, I was too busy getting out the cash or the debit card to notice, and the wise got a lot to shake their heads over....)

I've had occasion to pull out the card and read the Sutra aloud for a couple of different groups.  Both times I couldn't make it all the way through without choking up a little.  How straightforwardly elegant it is!

I'm particularly fond of the Metta Sutra.  It squarely locates the wellspring of lovingkindness in a life skillfully lived.  It doesn't just say, "practice lovingkindness."  It says, here's how one who would practice lovingkindness lives (able, upright, straightforward, gentle in speech, humble, unburdened, frugal…).  Start from that life, and lovingkindness will of its own accord flow upward and downward, outwards and unbounded.

It reminds me that lovingkindness isn't so much something I choose to practice but rather something that cannot be hindered, as long as I but step out of the way.

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