|Creating Mindful India|
With attentiveness, a sniper can shoot an innocent person; a thief can plot a bank robbery; a drug baron can count his money. But this isn’t true mindfulness – mindfulness is not pure attention alone. Mindfulness is giving attention to anything that you can perceive with a sense of warmth, kindliness and friendliness. This attitude is referred to as 'heartfulness' or loving-kindness. Without love, mindfulness cannot be practised.
Loving-kindness is a quality of the heart that recognizes how connected we all are. Loving-kindness is essentially a form of inclusiveness of caring, rather than categorizing others in terms of those whom we care for and those who can be easily excluded, ignored or disdained. It comes from the pali word, Metta, which can be translated as “love” or “lovingkindness”.
Meditation teacher and author states:
In our culture, when we talk about love, we usually mean either passion or sentimentality. It is crucial to distinguish metta from both of these states. Passion is
enmeshed with feelings of desire, of wanting or of owning and possessing. Passion gets entangled with needing things to be a certain way, with having our expectations met.
The expectation of exchange that underlies most passion is both conditional and ultimately defeating: “I will love you as long as you behave in the following fifteen ways, or as long as you love me in return at least as much as I love you.” It is not a coincidence that the word passion derives from the Latin word for “suffering.” Wanting and expectation inevitably entail suffering.
Sentimentality, the other mental state that masquerades as love, is really an ally of delusion. It is a facsimile of caring that limits itself only to experiences of pleasure. Like looking through the lens of a camera that has been smeared with a little Vaseline, sentimentality puts things into what is called “soft focus.” We cannot see the rough edges, the trouble spots, or the defects. Everything appears just too nice. Sentimentality finds pain unbearable and so rejects it.
By contrast, the spirit of Metta or Loving-kindness is unconditional: open and unobstructed. Like water poured from one vessel to another, metta flows freely, taking the shape of each situation without changing its essence. A friend may disappoint us; she may not meet our expectations, but we do not stop being a friend to her. We may in fact disappoint ourselves, may not meet our own expectations, but we do not cease to be a friend to ourselves.
Metta is the ability to embrace all parts of ourselves, as well as all parts of the world. It helps us to relate our loved ones, a difficult person or a neutral person equally with love. Practicing metta illuminates our inner integrity because it relieves us of the need to deny different aspects of ourselves. We can open to everything with the healing force of love.
When we feel love, our mind is expansive and open enough to include the entirety of life in full awareness, both its pleasures and its pains.