Paramita #9 Loving Kindness…the Bodhisattva way
“The teaching of Mahayana Buddhism, the teaching of Zen, is the teaching of love, not hate. My teacher did not teach people to hate one another, he taught people to love one another (Anderson page 178).” So writes Reb Anderson in his wonderful book Being Upright Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. So what we are talking about here is not romantic love, but agape love, the love of humanity with all its frailties, foibles, and mistakes. Loving kindness when it is hard, when it is not deserved, when it is well deserved, and when it is simply plain fun.
This is the way of the adept, the Bodhisattva, the monk, the minister, the rabbi, the priest, and the wayfarer. When a person is surrounded by the idea of loving kindness inside and out it can be seen on his or her face, heard in his or her voice, and noticed in the actions taken.
Are we all perfectly loving and kind all the time? Not hardly, but to be so more often than not David Baird says, “We must learn from the past, prepare for the future, and live in the present (Baird page 161).” To do so we may want to take an inventory of the times in the past when we were not practicing loving kindness, and when we were practicing loving kindness, and then look at the things we need to do to prepare for the future opportunities that may appear to practice loving kindness. How do we do that—by living in the present! In this very present moment when I am living mindfully I am fully conscious of my thoughts, feelings, and actions and if I catch myself being unkind I can quickly and immediately make a 180 degree turn and show loving kindness.
Sitting, meditating, and praying on a regular basis will make this happen more often, it will make it much easier to catch ourselves in the moment and ultimately improve our relationships with everyone we meet be they family, friends, co-workers, customers, bosses, inmates, or strangers.
When we do this Reb Anderson tells us there is light at the end of the tunnel. “You practice being upright to generate love, not to generate states of mind. States of mind come and go, and happiness comes and goes; but love can be developed so that it doesn’t come and go (Anderson, page 26).” We can learn to love the person and not the actions. We can learn to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes and thus show loving kindness for the pain and anguish they may be in.
Many people walk around with very low self-esteem, with voices in their heads that remind them of the hundreds of times they may have been put down, marginalized, or physically or mentally abused when growing up. For these people loving kindness was never shown to them and so they have no example to pattern themselves after. These, my friends, are people who need more loving kindness than your average Jane or Joe.
This week we will practice loving kindness when it is easy, when it is hard, and when it is fun. We will be given many opportunities to do it I am sure! There is never a moment when loving kindness cannot be displayed. Keep an inventory of how many opportunities you were given each day, notice where they came from and how you responded to them. If you were unable to respond with loving kindness do not be unkind to yourself. Simply look at your behavior and what triggered it and determine to not let that trigger take you away from showing loving kindness in the future.
It will take practice with some people and some situations, but it will be well-worth it in the end. You will see your triggers getting smaller, and lighter, and appearing less often. You will find solace and peace in the action of loving kindness and just maybe you may see it returned in kind. Keep your eyes and ears open for that! Loving kindness is on its way to you today! Namaste…
 Baird, D. (2000), A Thousand Paths to Enlightenment. London, England: MQ Publications Limited
 Anderson, R. (2001). Being Upright Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press.