All Are Hard
One of the wonderful things about Metta (Lovingkindness or Goodwill) meditation is how even after many years of practice it still continues to evolve and the insights gained become deeper. It is part of the genius of the ancient form.
One of the things I often say about this form of meditation is that if you find it hard you are probably doing it right. This isn't supposed to be easy, this is supposed to be a life's work. It's like going to the gym: coming out saying it was a tough workout is a good thing. It means that you were working those muscles.
It is interesting to contrast how I felt about the form when I was first taught it to how I experience it now. Many things have changed - and I am sure will continue to change.
One of the main things that changes is how we view the four people we use with the form. If you aren't familiar with the practice the four people are: yourself; a friend; a neutral person (someone you would recognize but don't really know; and a difficult person or enemy. We use specific people - not generally 'all my friends' or 'all my enemies' but real individuals.
This specificity is important. Stating generalities is easy - 'I love all people and wish them well' is usually a platitude. We can all easily say it but I can almost guarantee that I could find a politician, relative or country singer who would make you retract the statement.
Which is where the practice comes in. In the practice - and it is 'practice' in the truest sense of the word - we choose specific people and explore what it means to truly feel Metta for them, to wish them wellness and happiness.
One of the things we might feel when we start the practice is that they are ordered form easy to hard - self, friend, neutral, enemy. That it is easy to wish your self to be happy and hard to wish the enemy to be happy. Often when we start this is the case.
However when we get deeper we realize it is not a simple as that. When we consider our self we are often our own worst critic. We know what really goes on in our head, we know how we have messed up and not met our own standards. Even with the friend, because we are closer and know more about them, we know the ways they don't always behave how we would want. The nice smiling cashier that we choose for the neutral person seems fine, but what if we see the confederate flag on their truck? At least with the enemy we know where they stand - until maybe we learn more about their background and their own struggles.
The point is that the 'easy to hard' assumption is in itself a delusion, and as we begin to work on this delusion we also start to break down the bigger delusion - that the separation into self, friend, neutral and enemy is itself a delusion. One of the core insights of the practice is that the very premise that it is built on - that we can separate these people into these four groups - is itself a lie. It's just a lie that we tell ourselves daily.
So I would like to encourage you to approach the practice with the expectation that All Are Hard - yourself included.
I have linked below a fully guided Metta meditation, focusing on the idea that all are hard. You are welcome to use it in your own practice if you wish. A few of us have committed to press 'play' together at 7pm on Sunday 23rd May and you are also welcome to join us then. However you choose to practice I wish you a wonderful week - may you be well, happy and live at ease.