Posts tagged #mudita

How Do I Get a Life? - the 5 step answer

The question of how to get a life is one most people have to ask themselves at some point.  Very few folks spring into the world knowing full well how to pack a social calendar or spark a glamorous career.

How to Get a Life

1. To Get a Life, First Get a Mission

Getting a life is a tedious, defeating and nearly impossible process if you're driven only by loneliness or the desire for approval.  What many folks don't realize is that a full and wondrous life flows from having a mission.  So - what's your mission?  You get to make it up.  No one is going to hand it to you.

Sheesh, I get worn out just thinking about it.  This is tough business.

Here's a hint, though: ask yourself - what do I want the most in life? If your answer is, "money" "sex" or "fame" - think a bit harder.  What feeling state do you want those things to give you? A sense of being secure? A warmth of being welcome in the world? A rush of deep fulfillment? Astounded wonder? Vitality? Happiness? Focus on that feeling sense.  Now ask yourself this: what can I do to give that lovely feeling to as many people as possible?

Why are you asking yourself this? Because the more you give others that feeling, the more you'll experience it yourself.  But there's a catch. The catch is that you can't offer it just to folks you like.  You have to be willing to extend it without condition, to everyone. Otherwise the magic  boomerang effect doesn't happen.  That's how the gift world works.

Your answer to "what can I do" to spread the feeling state that you crave far and wide is your mission.  If you want to give yourself and others a sense of astounded wonder, maybe you had better get busy making art.  If you're into spreading happiness around, perhaps you should start throwing cozy sing-along-parties wherein you serve Swiss fondue.  Doesn't that sounds great? Or whatever.  Like I said, you gotta make it up.

 It's your mission, honey.

2. To Get a Life, Spread Your Mission Far

So you start off making art and throwing Swiss fondue singing parties.  Fantastic.  That's a smashing start.  But for the getting a life thing to keep working, I recommend that you further the momentum.  Pool resources together with other people, rent a hall, and throw a GIANT Swiss-fondue-singalong-art-party.   You'll probably become famous and get lots of money and sex since people will be so grateful for all the happiness and astounded wonder you've given them with your singing fondue art.

But by this point you won't even care about all the sex and money and fame because you'll be so freaking happy and full of astounded wonder that really, the cash and the smooth ripe flesh and the camera flashes from the bushes are all just gravy.

3.  To Get a Life, Teach Others How to Fulfill Your Mission

You're not the only one who longs to give others happiness and wonder.  Gather people around you and teach them the intricacies of your cheese-melting voodoo.  Show them how to craft sing-a-longs that people will talk about for years to come.  This is another way for you to be generous, and being authentically generous is what getting a life is all about.

4.  To Get a Life, Don't be Fake Generous

Fake generous is when you invite everyone to your fondue sing-a-long but instead of just wanting them to feel happiness you expect them to be grateful.  This isn't actual generosity – instead, it's a subtle form of manipulation.  People can sense that and they don't like it.  It's also draining and not fun.  There's an element of control and neediness to it that actually pushes folks away.  So at the end of the night you're left holding some dripping greasy chunks of bread and wondering why you don't feel at all fulfilled.

5. To Get a Life, Let Go of Your Bullshit

What's your bullshit?  Very simply, its your resentments, your envy, your cruelty, and your tight attachment to having things your own way on your own schedule.  That's your bullshit.  Don't worry, almost everyone else has the same bullshit. I've got massive reeking piles of it.  You're not uniquely awful because of it.  But you do have to give it up, because that stuff just drags you down and thwarts all your efforts at joy.

Why? Because resentment, envy, cruelty and attachment are patterns of thought and feeling that make you feel alienated from other people.  And the more alienated you feel, the more your limbic system will perceive others as threats to your well-being.  The more you perceive others as threats to your well-being, the more you'll be uptight and the worse you'll treat people (even against your conscious intention).  The worse you treat people, the less friends and true success and happiness you'll have.

So how do you let go of your bullshit? There are many light-weight methods  that work for people- but for me, since I've got such giant stores of it, I have to use the heavy-duty stuff: brahma-vihara practice.   It's a lot of work.  But it does erase the bullshit.  And you're looking to get a life, so you probably don't have anything better to do, right?

So - go I would love for you to tell me in the comments - what's your mission?

 

With Metta: Cultivating Boundless Love

I'm a giant fan of metta.

Metta, of course, is the Pali word for loving-kindness or friendliness.  Along with karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity) it's considered one of the "divine abodes" in Buddhism.

The divine abodes are also known as "the four immeasurables" because they can be cultivated through concentrated practice and directed towards an infinite number of beings.  They're not limited or limiting like personal affection and egoistic enjoyment.

In reading about the Buddhist path of awakening, one usually hears that the cultivation of metta and the other divine abodes are supplemental to the practice of Vipassana or insight meditation.  I've always found this emphasis to be disappointing- as I get a lot of pleasure and fulfillment out of metta cultivation and almost none out of Vipassana.

Metta as a Complete Path of Awakening

Recently, though, I had the good fortune of finding a radically eye-opening talk  on metta by John Peacock, the Associate Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Center.

Peacock makes a compelling argument that a non-traditionalist reading of early Buddhist scriptures supports the notion that the cultivation of metta is itself a complete path to awakening.  He points to the Metta Sutra, where the Buddha states that anyone who cultivates metta will "never again lie in the womb" as evidence that metta practice is enough to take an aspirant all the way off the karmic merry-go-round and into nirvana.

Peacock also makes the rather fascinating point that metta practice leads progressively and automatically to the cultivation of the other three divine abodes.

Well golly gee, sign me up.

I've been thinking for awhile now that I need to intensely focus myself on the cultivation of metta.

Here are some reasons metta is so important to me:

1. It Makes Me Both Happy and Psychic

Metta meditation, when practiced as a vivid visualization of oneself and others experiencing happiness, tends to make me feel open, energized, and buoyant.  I've also noticed that it tends to dramatically increase my intuition and my ability to feel and know things with my heart.

2. It Counters the Destructive force of Love Addiction

I struggle with getting caught up in romantic infatuations that are ultimately destructive.  This has been a pattern throughout my life, and I'm tired of it.  Metta, because it's universal and non-attached love, is the opposite of infatuated, obsessive, possessive love - which tends to be ego-inflating, unbalancing, and crazy-making.  Metta is sanity-making.  It's wholesome.  As such, it's the antidote to my unwholesome pattern.

3. It Tunes Me Into Divine Energy

Simone Weil once remarked that the cause of all misery is the inability of human beings to consistently draw energy directly from divine love in the same way that plants draw energy directly from the sun.  Instead, we humans tend to vampirize energy from others or from our own bodies via games of power and sensual indulgence. In the process, we hurt others and ourselves.  I completely agree with Weil on this point.  And it's evident to me that by practicing metta, we can increase our ability to draw energy directly from divine love instead of from acts of exploitation or addiction.

So my plan for the New Year...

...is to devote two hours every day to metta cultivation.  I know that sounds like a lot - but metta is fun.  So it's less of a commitment to hard discipline and more of me just making time to do what I both enjoy and need for my sanity.

Also, because I've found a lack of interesting things to read about metta cultivation on the interwebs, I intend to write about what unfolds in my process here - and hopefully it'll inspire some of you out there to try it for yourself.  I know I always need a lot of reassurance and proof that a spiritual effort will be worthwhile before I undertake it.

 

 

Posted on January 1, 2013 and filed under Uncategorized.