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Meditation on the four immeasurables - loving kindness

The four immeasurables - loving kindness

November 2003

Again we sit in the right meditation posture and we reflect today on loving kindness.

The most effective way to develop our loving kindness in meditation is to bring up our own attitude towards someone we have difficulties with or someone who is not our favourite person.

It is good to reflect that when we feel uncomfortable with this person, we ask ourselves, "Why am I not happy with that person? Why am I so discriminating towards that person? Why don't I like that person?" When we have those negative feelings towards others it is good to ask oneself, "Does this make me happy? Do I get some positive result out of this? Is it good to have an adverse attitude to others? Is this loving kindness?"

So ask yourself all these questions and at the same time recognise that any mind that has bad feelings towards others is the creator of negative karma. So at that point we have to recognise it is our own mind creating the thoughts and attitude - the person I don't like is innocent. We are not so much making our negative karma, but it is our own negative mind creating the karma.

The unkind mind brings two main results, that of one's own suffering and that of contributing to others being unhappy. Once we can see our own weaknesses in this way then we have to learn to transform them into something positive. It is important to realise that the weaknesses arise from ignorance and attachment, which create the negative mind towards others. Do we think we can gain happiness when our negative mind hurts others? The only way we can turn the negative mind into a positive mind is by learning to think differently.

So, think about the person you dislike and see that person as innocent. Even if that person does make some difficulty for you, the difficulty comes from that person's expression of their own unhappiness caused by their own defilements. That person's defilement makes him or her unhappy and the result of that effect is to make you unhappy. So it always best to learn how you feel when someone is unpleasant to you. The same thing happens when you are making a difficulty - you are also hurting someone's life. As long as we don't understand unhappiness we cannot understand kindness or loving kindness.

Based on that premise we can now change the mind. Instead of judgment or negativity towards that person, we try to look at their positive aspects. It is not that person's problem; it is my own expectation, my own attachment to the problem. As soon as we change this negative quality, you can feel the person totally different.

As soon as we have positive loving kindness, at that very moment you have some form of happiness, at that moment you are creating positive karma and that contributes to the other person feeling more comfortable around you. Because you are contributing positively to the situation, the other person also is more positive, and then you can see the benefit of cultivating loving kindness and the disadvantage of unkindness to others.

It is very important to realise the difference between kindness and unkindness. Then one can understand the value of practising loving kindness towards the other people who you used to think of less favourably, or dislike somehow.

Then eventually you can extend this loving kindness to all other sentient beings, wishing them free from unhappiness and free from the causes of unhappiness.

It is good to recognise that loving kindness is not just an intellectual thing - it is necessary to think of practical, actual experience of how we usually treat others. Some we have reason to dislike, and some we don't have reason to dislike. Just because of the way we are looking or because of the person's behaviour, we dislike them and these feelings or judgments are just our own mind's creations.

We will meditate on this to generate thoughts of loving kindness to all other sentient beings.

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