01 January 2023

The (very brief) Lovingkindness Sutra.

As I believe I've made clear to my farflung correspondents, I am a secular Buddhist, meaning I think of it, oversimplifying a bit, as a philosophy rather than as a religion (although of course it is a religion for many). Thinking about the "Four Immeasurables" I was discussing recently, I chanced to ask the ChatBot ChatGPT about it, and it gave me a contemporary translation of the Metta Sutta ("Lovingkindness Sutra"), traditionally the teachings of the historical Buddha, Shakyamnuni, himself, in a contemporary translation, done by the Theravada monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Here it is:

"This is what should be done By one who is skilled in goodness, And who knows the path of peace: Let them be able and upright, Straightforward and gentle in speech. Humble and not conceited, Contented and easily satisfied, Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways. Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful, Not proud and demanding in nature. Let them not do the slightest thing That the wise would later reprove. Wishing: In gladness and in safety, May all beings be at ease. Whatever living beings there may be; Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, The great or the mighty, medium, short or small, The seen and the unseen, Those living near and far away, Those born and to-be-born, May all beings be at ease! Let none deceive another, Or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or ill-will Wish harm upon another. Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings: Radiating kindness over the entire world Spreading upwards to the skies, And downwards to the depths; Outwards and unbounded, Freed from hatred and ill-will. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down Free from drowsiness, One should sustain this recollection. This is said to be the sublime abiding. By not holding to fixed views, The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision, Being freed from all sense desires, Is not born again into this world."

Happy New Year, and may these thoughts be of benefit. (I take the last lines a tad metaphorically, but there is real wisdom here).

"Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it."
― Spinoza (Ethics)

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