This talk is the third in a series that review what are termed the “Divine Abidings”. The first talk is entitled “Reviewing the Brahma Viharas”, and the second “Manifesting Equanimity”–both can be found in the archive. Lovingkindness is an over-arching contemplation, as the contemplations focusing on Compassion and Sympathetic Joy emerge from the cultivation of Lovingkindness. During the talk, the traditional understandings of this practice are reviewed, with additional support from contemporary research commentaries regarding the neurological underpinnings of the contemplation, which changes the way the brain and body function, particularly the beneficial effects of the practice that enhances what is called “vagal tone”, a high level of functioning for the important neural link between the heart and the brain. The emotional potency of sincere repetition of the lovingkindness mantra is also described.
There is an accompanying “Guided Lovingkindness Contemplation” found in the archives.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Cultivating Lovingkindness
The topic for next week’s review will focus on cultivating Compassion.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:06:10 — 60.6MB)
This guided meditation is intended to accompany the Dharma talk entitled “Cultivating Lovingkindness” recorded on January 26, 2022 and posted on the website. During the meditation, a series of suggestions are offered that cultivate focusing benevolent intention towards one’s own self-experience, followed by focusing lovingkindness towards a traditional hierarchy of persons, and then contemplating radiating lovingkindness towards all creatures that we share life with on the planet.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 44:56 — 41.1MB)
This guided meditation was recorded January 6, 2021, while the U.S. Capitol building was being invaded by rioters, with the intention of the guidance being to provide support for addressing whatever fear or anger might have been stirred up witnessing the events through various media prior to the start of the meeting. The guidance suggests first cultivating lovingkindness (metta) towards self, then later in the meditation projecting lovingkindness as an antidote for others who might be afflicted with aversion and ill-will.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 44:59 — 82.4MB)
This is the first of a series of talks about the Brahma Viharas, the Divine Abidings: Metta (lovingkindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (sympathetic joy) and Upekkha (equanimity). During the talk, which focused primarily on Metta, Peter read an excerpt from research published in 2010 that described the emotional and interpersonal benefits from cultivating positive emotions for the vagus nerve, an important nerve complex that connects the brain with the function of the heart and the intestinal wall. This research suggests the benefits derived from Metta meditation. Peter then described the evolution of his Metta practice, beginning in 1983 with a one-week retreat led by Sharon Salzberg, an authoritative teacher of Metta. He talked of how important the words of the mantra are and the benefit of focusing attention on the “heart chakra” while practicing Metta, as this seems to involve the strengthening of “vagal tone”, the optimal balancing of energy transmission from the brain into the body and back again.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: The Value Of Metta Here is a rendering of the Metta Sutta ( a translation of which was read by Peter during the talk), accompanied by Peter’s version of various levels of Metta mantra practice: LOVINGKINDNESS MANTRA
The focus of next week’s talk will be the value of practicing Karuna, compassion.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:01:20 — 112.3MB)
During this dialogue, Peter described the basic principles and practices associated with cultivating lovingkindness, as a manifestation of the Noble Eightfold Path factor of Right Intention. Following this, the practice of vipassana (insight) was described as the more mature application of the Seven Factors of Awakening. The process of vipassana was then associated with the cultivation of lovingkindness, and, more particularly, with Tibetan Buddhist Lojong and Tonglen (compassion) practice.
Next week’s dialogue will provide participants with an opportunity to report on their retreat experience (There is a retreat December 5-7). The comments of the participants help them review and integrate what was experienced during the retreat as well as providing inspiration for those who weren’t on the retreat to consider the benefits of the intensive practice experience.