A Few Words on Loving Kindness…

Whilst visiting the Ganga Ramaya Temple in Beruwela, Sri Lanka in 1996, I saw Theravada Buddhist monks continuously exercising ‘metta’ (loving kindness) and ‘karuna’ (compassion). The surface and depth mind must be thoroughly cleared of greed, hatred and delusion so that the practitioner fully realises non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion. This is the psychic fabric cleansed of all the taints (asava) associated with human suffering. Indeed, whether in the UK or China (or wherever), this process of cleaning the mind is a cornerstone of authentic Buddhist practice irrespective of school or sect. In Sri Lanka, the Buddhist monks radiated peace, love and wisdom (panna). In their presence, the agitation in the minds of ordinary people would be reduced and cleared away, granting relief from worldly worries. I often saw wild animals not only react with extraordinary gentleness, but quite often show respect to the monks as passed by, or stood expanding into the environment with their awareness. A very large spider (the size of a small cat) would walk into the meditation hall of the Ganga Ramaya Temple and snuggle into the leg of a seated, meditating monk. The Head Monk would recite the Vinaya Discipline to the spider, and tell him not to kill and to eat vegetarian food! This spider never killed or ate any living creature whilst in the grounds of the temple! He also seemed to ‘bow’ toward the Head Monk and the Buddha statues. Although this spider was free to come and go as he pleased, he chose to spend long hours with the monks. Another similar example I saw was that of a giant lizard the size of a medium-sized dog! This lizard growled at me when we first met, but after we were introduced by the monks, he treated me with a cultivated indifference. This lizard was big, strong, heavy and incredibly gentle! Often running around and over him were smaller lizards which he never harmed. Finally, Brahmin cows were everywhere along the roads. It is a criminal offence to hurt or impede the movement of these animals and so they are placid and quite beautiful to encounter (although about half the size of Western cows). They come over to be stroked and would sit-down next to their favourite human like a cat or dog! Sometimes a Buddhist monk would chastise a layperson for being rough with an elephant. In one such case the elephant actually ‘bowed’ to the monk concerned! Of course, the world is not a perfect place, but I steadfastly believe ‘loving kindness’ and ‘compassion’ help develop human to human, and human to animal relations for the better. This respect and influence over nature stems from the purity of the following of the Vinaya Discipline.  If a Buddhist monk is corrupt, then his or her corruption is magnified and suffering increased in the world! However, if the Buddhist monk has a pure intent and follows all the rules correctly, then his or her purity is magnified throughout existence beyond all imagined limits! When the human mind has been emptied of greed, hatred and delusion, and the fundamental ‘emptiness’ (sunnata) realised, then out of this pristine voidness a sublime wisdom emerges!  

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