Today’s Book of the Day is Living Kindness – Metta practice for the whole of our lives, written by Kevin Griffin in 2022, and published by Shambhala Publications.
Kevin Griffin is a leader in the mindful movement and a Dharma Leader and Teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He is the author of five previous books, including One Breath at a Time. He has studied with the leading Western vipassana teachers, including Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Ajahn Amaro. He regularly teaches and leads Buddhist retreats.
I have chosen this book because, being an ordained Buddhist monk living as a layperson, Metta is one practice I do most, even in the Sangha I manage and in my daily job, when I use it in MMQG.
Mettā is a Sanskrit word meaning benevolence, loving-kindness, friendliness, positive energy and intention, and active interest in others.It is the first of the four Brahmaviharas (sublime states) and one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism.
Mettā bhāvanā or cultivation of benevolence is a very popular form of Buddhist meditation and, being a compassion meditation is often practiced in Asia by ordained monks for the laity.
In this book, Kevin Griffin shares his rich experience in Metta as a Dharma teacher, by giving the readers both stories from the Pali canon and his personal reflections on modern life
Metta, as one of the Brahmaviharas (the other three are karuṇā or compassion, muditā or sympathetic joy, and upekkhā or equanimity), is not just a meditation practice of loving-kindness but rather represents the way Buddhists understand their life journey, filled with knowledge, awareness, wisdom, ethics, and compassion for all beings.
In our culture, many people, unfortunately, find it difficult to feel, and practice, loving-kindness. And this is not just towards others, but even toward themselves. Practicing Metta can be a perfect solution to grow our love for ourselves and others from a tiny seed to a universal way of living.
Griffin’s writing style is involving. He speaks to the readers not as a teacher but as a friend who is some steps forward in his spiritual journey. In this way, he can introduce complex themes and try to give them an answer. The questions he asks are like: what would it mean to be completely free of ill will? How do we love without attachment? Can feel loving-kindness for the entire Universe? How is Metta related to enlightenment?
The book is full of practical, guided practices that help the readers better understand the meaning of some classical Buddhist texts like the Metta Sutta. In this way Griffin is able to make lessons first given more than 2500 years ago actual and tangible, as if they were shared and so fully relevant, in our time.
I think that everyone needs to read such a book, where one can find, even if not being Buddhist, a practical, useful, immediately appliable guide on how to make Metta a lifestyle and not just an abstract idea.