While lovingkindness is often taught as a unique practice, it is merely the expansion of the ordinary human capacity for friendliness. Its basis is the recognition that, just like us, others wish for happiness and well-being. More an attitude than a feeling, lovingkindness is naturally expressed as compassion toward another's suffering and empathic joy for another's happiness. It does not necessarily lead to being "nice," nor need one feel any special affection for another person to practice it. Lovingkindness is an intention. It is an ideal that gives direction to our endeavors, not an opportunity to evaluate our value or merit. Merely the intention to be kind is a practice in and of itself.This is about willingness, isn't it? And if you find it very, very difficult to be willing to intend kindness toward someone, try the 12-step practice of being willing to be willing! We can all do that. Then, slowly, a true willingness to intend lovingkindness will emerge in our consciousness and we will experience the beginning of transformation.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
The difference between a feeling and an intention
Today I want to bring you another paragraph from Mindfulness and Psychotherapy edited by Germer, Siegel and Fulton. It makes the important point that you don't have to like a person to wish that person well and you don't have to feel kindly toward someone to have the intention of kindness: