This is a brief extract from From Depression to Contentment:
Send out good
The most important good thing you can send out is metta. What is that?
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This does not mean that we should put up with evil, with bad or even thoughtless behavior, but that we should deal with the perpetrator in a spirit of helpfulness and compassion.
English is an imprecise language. The word “love” has five different meanings. This Love Jesus talked about has a special word in Greek: “agape,” pronounced /agapi/. The conventional English spelling can result in confusion with having your mouth wide open. So, I prefer “metta,” which is what the same concept is called in Buddhist writings.
You can be an atheist and practice metta, and sadly, you can claim to follow a great religion like Christianity, and do the opposite. This is not a religious concept, but an ethical one.
It is deliberately making the choice of treating all other humans as our brothers and sisters. Read the wonderful Dalai Lama’s wonderful book, How to Practise.
For many years now, part of my daily meditation has been to send out metta. Sometimes, it’s to a particular person who needs it. Sometimes it’s to members of some group, like everyone in my neighborhood. It can even be to all living beings on earth. The hardest, of course, is to send it to myself, but that’s what I occasionally do. Because I don’t want to adapt to this activity, I vary it all the time, so it’s always fresh.
It is important to note that the recipient doesn’t need to know of my sending. The good effect is on me. If I also have a good influence on the other person, beauty.
Walking along a street, driving a car in traffic, sitting in a dentist’s waiting room, wherever I encounter other people, I often use one of many devices to send metta:
- “Metta to you,” I might think at a grumpy, aggressive-looking fellow.
- “Have a good life, you two” could be a silent wish for a young couple walking hand in hand.
- Wishing the other person a good life is often what I do when finishing a phone conversation with one of those pesky callers who try to trick money out of me.
- Here is a wish I often use when finishing an email, or within my mind to a stranger:
May you live in contentment;
May you be healthy (or “May your health improve” for someone in ill health);
May you rise to your challenges;
And may you grow spiritually.
- I’ve designed a collection of emailable cards. Each has a picture, and a wish to go with it.
So far, I have devised eight such cards. Here they are, at the end of this post. You are welcome to use them, but it’s better if you make up your own. Only, respect copyright when grabbing a suitable picture.
Finally, I have a request. I need your help: please suggest a picture that would go perfectly with my wish above (“May you live in contentment,” etc.)
Anyone sending me a suggestion will be rewarded with a huge blast of metta. The successful recommendation will also earn you a choice of any of my 18 published books, in electronic format.
Update, 2nd August, 2019
Here is my newest card: