(Back from two and a half week retreat with Ruth Denison, at Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center, I am devoting the next few weeks to sharing Ruth's wonderful teachings.)
Ruth's Teachings on Loving Kindness.
I brought back with me the gift of Ruth's image of loving kindness as the sun that brings its warm rays to everything, regardless.
|Sunrise at Dhamma Dena Vipassana Center|
Ruth gaves us several metta practices:Metta is love without distinction. You see that you can have you can have your heart open, even if someone acts in a bad way. You understand this person is behaving in such a way because he or she is suffering, and you extend compassion towards them, who have no precepts to guide them. You always keep a friendly heart, and you don't criticize yourself or others. I see every difficulty as a challenge for my practice to become stronger. You have to go very deep into that which is harmful, so that it becomes of benefit to yourself and others. Loving kindness does not sort out. It is even-minded. That does not mean you always say yes, but you don't blame and go into 'he could have done better'. Our rawness, our anger get transformed that way.
From the Buddha's Discourse on Loving-Kindness:
"Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life even so let one cultivate a boundless love towards all beings."
One morning she asked us to use our time walking back from the zendo, "to unload that which is hindering your heart", while becoming aware of the sun's warm touch on our bodies.
Another time, during sitting meditation, she asked us to extend love from our center into all four directions, and then placing both hands on the heart, bringing that same love to ourselves.
The biggest love lesson, I got from watching Ruth every day, as she gave selflessly of herself, from early morning to late night. Giving to us, her students, her teachings. Giving to impromptu visitors, the gift of her wisdom. Giving to the animals in the desert, the coyotes, the rabbits, the quails, the squirrels, the doves, each their kind of food. Giving to the ones in financial needs, free tuition, and sometimes even free rent. Giving the plants scarce water, recycled from our daily activities. Giving, giving . . . with joy always.
"This is a radical practice." - Ruth Denison
I left Dhamma Dena with a light heart, ready to give.