don’t swat the fly
who begs your pardon
wringing his hands and legs ~Issa*
The arising of ill will hinders one’s interactions with self and others. Ill will is a synonym for aversion. It is felt as hatred, envy, anger, self-pity, and resentment. It is seen in the repulsion we have towards others, objects, situations, and ourselves. An introspective mind that is overcome with ill will can be equated to a person looking for her reflection in a pot of boiling water.
The goal of metta meditation (a meditation of loving-kindness) is to wish happiness for all beings. This practice begins with first extending love to one’s self by saying, “I will rid my mind of anger, hatred, ignorance, fear, greed, and craving. I will make my mind clear, fresh and pure. Like a transparent window is my mind and I pour out thoughts of love and kindness to myself.”
The practice moves you to another as you recall a mental image of someone dear to you. Imagine yourself within their being, feel his or her personality, enter your own being and direct loving-kindness into the mind and heart of that person. Repeat this with other people with whom you feel emotionally close. In time extend this warmth and kindness to others in your life; for example, people who live in your neighborhood, the grocery clerk, your co-workers, and eventually all beings on earth and beyond.
If you find during this practice that disturbing thoughts and feelings arise in conjunction with an image of a person, take this as a message that it is not the right time to extend loving-kindness to this particular person. With soothing self acceptance, return to extending warmth and loving-kindness to your self.
I find it amazing to acknowledge the strength by which our ego holds onto our feelings and beliefs as if they were objects to possess or tangible entitlements to protect despite their potential to consume or destroy. It is as if feelings have the creative ability to create story lines and to take our mind hostage while formulating validation, rationalization, and justification for their continued presence. For example, anger once awakened by other feelings—such as, pride, jealousy, fear, or grief—seems to have an uncanny ability to recall historical events to justify its continued presence as well as to drawn upon an unlimited supply of resources to insure its survival.
To become mindful of ill will one must first discern it arising without acceptance of its justifications with, “ill will is rising within me.” As it is abandoned, “ill will within me is abandoned.” While it is fading, “ill will is ceasing within me.” When it is gone, “there is no ill will present within me.” To ease anger and ill will, one is directed to meditate on loving-kindness.
Inch by Inch
trans: Nanao Sakaki