When there is hatred, when there is anger, please don’t take a decision because that decision will always be coming from a confused mind, not from a clear mind. Not only decisions but also words. I would suggest that if we get angry with someone then at that very moment we should just keep our mouths shut, because whatever we speak it doesn’t come from a clear mind, it can be confusing and can make matters worse. So the state of the mind in such a situation is very important.
On some occasions someone does something wrong and then we get angry and we try to correct that person with anger. I would suggest that to a great extent that type of reaction, trying to correct persons with anger, will not work.
Sometimes when I travel I meet people who work with dying people, because I am very interested in this theme of death and dying. I used to work with cancer patients who are dying. So the biggest problem at the time of death is the wounds that we have not looked at, the wounds that we have pushed away, the wounds that we have repressed, because they can surface in a very strong and intense way. Why should they manifest in such a strong way when we are dying?
What happens is that at the time of death our mind and body may become weak. While we are living we can consciously push these things away and deny them, repress them, lead very busy lives; but at the time of death you cannot escape from what is happening.
This is why I emphasised that while we are living, while we are strong we should look at our wounds and try to heal them. It is interesting that there is this connection between loving-kindness and death.
When we die, we have a last chance to become enlightened. Because at the moment of death, if you can practise meditation, if you can really practise conscious dying, that will give us a great opportunity to free ourselves, so to create that opportunity is part of the practice.
There is a very interesting book from the Tibetan tradition: The Tibetan Book of the Dead. It shows how your experience at the time of death is determined by the way you have lived. So in simple terms, as I understand it, at that moment our emotions, especially unpleasant emotions, can surface and they can take many forms. At that moment we don’t recognise that they are simply emotions but as they manifest themselves externally we react to these external forms that we see.
So you see how this is related to meditation. How it is important to recognise how our mind works, how it works with our emotions, to recognise them. And what is interesting is, it is said that enlightenment also manifests itself and we have to recognise it, and if you don’t recognise it your last chance is lost.
So in practical terms, in our meditation we also should recognise our positive states of mind, just to know that they are there. When you know them, when you recognise them, then when they manifest themselves you just know that it is the free mind, the enlightened mind that is manifesting in this way.
So it shows clearly that when you have awareness, when you are conscious at the time of dying, you can know all these things, recognise these things, and we have a last chance to free ourselves from what is happening.
Another benefit of loving-kindness meditation is that it gives you a sense of protection. It is interesting that loving-kindness can be so powerful it can in some ways protect you from situations. An aspect related to protection is that it also gives a sense of security, confidence. In one of the statements in the text it is mentioned that those who have loving-kindness feel at home wherever they are. So you don’t feel threatened, you don’t feel insecure because of loving-kindness. You feel at home with yourself, you feel at home with others.
There is a very interesting benefit related to meditation. It is said that with loving-kindness it is easy to experience samadhi, one-pointedness. This is why I emphasise friendliness so much in the practice, because when we are practising, if you are hating things, if you are resisting things, if you are fighting things, it is not easy to have a mind that is calm. This calmness comes naturally when there is friendliness, when there is gentleness, when there is openness. So this is a very important point to remember in our practice; we are learning to use friendliness and gentleness in whatever technique we are practising.
In the modern world we have a lot of problems with the environment, what is called the ecological crisis, and so on. I see it as a manifestation of our own self-destructiveness which comes through in this way. When you have loving-kindness you learn to develop a sensitivity to yourself, your surroundings, your environment, so this is a very simple way of protecting the environment, by making a connection with the environment. See yourself as part of the environment and not as something separate from it.
Another interesting benefit is that non-human beings also like you. What are these non-human beings? One can interpret this in different ways, but perhaps we can include animals, perhaps we can include plants and trees. We can include non-human beings who may be here in this world but which we cannot see. I think it is a fact that animals can really feel your loving-kindness and they can respond in the same way. I was saying the other day that we have monks in Sri Lanka who meditate in deep forests where there are wild animals, where there are animals who can harm you, but it is interesting how the monks get on with these animals. I know in one place the chief monk talks to these wild animals and they seem to obey the requests or orders of the monks. So I think animals are disturbed when you have fear, but when you have loving-kindness, when you are friendly towards them, I think they can feel that.
They have done some research which shows that even plants can feel your emotions, they can react to your emotions. So here again, I think loving-kindness may be able to affect them in some ways.
Another benefit of loving-kindness meditation is that other human beings like you. Why do human beings like you? Because you are friendly towards them, so naturally when you are friendly to others they are friendly towards you.
If you are not friendly to others they will not be friendly to you. So it is a very simple point that when you are friendly to others, others will respond in the same way. I think this is very important because we have a lot of problems and difficulties in relationships due to the way we are relating to other people. So if we can be friendly to ourselves and friendly to others this can generate a lot of joy, a lot of happiness.
The first benefit of loving-kindness is that you can sleep peacefully. There is a difference between sleeping peacefully and sleeping well. This is related to the second benefit, which is that you wake up peacefully, and that is related to the third benefit where it is said you don’t have any nightmares, any unpleasant dreams.
What are these unpleasant dreams we have, these nightmares? I would suggest that they are related to the emotions we are repressing, perhaps related to the wounds that we are holding onto. So with loving-kindness you heal these wounds, then you don’t have these nightmares or unpleasant dreams, and then you can sleep peacefully and wake up peacefully.
In Sri Lanka, sometimes I work with people who suffer from insomnia, and the way I try to help them is by the practice of this simple method of loving-kindness before they go to sleep. It has been interesting for me to see that it works most of the time.
Please feel the area of your heart. Please spend some time just feeling that area.
Can you feel that your heart is opening up like a flower, feeling gentleness, softness and tenderness?
Can you feel that you are your best friend, can you really feel it in the area of your heart and every part of your body?
As your best friend, can you really forgive yourself for whatever mistakes you have made in the past? If you do not have to forgive yourself, just feel happy that you are not carrying any wound.
As your best friend, can you forgive others for whatever mistakes they have done, letting go of any hatred or ill-will you are carrying in relation to them?
May you all be well. May you all be happy. May you all be peaceful. May all beings be well. May all beings be happy. May all beings be peaceful.be well. May all beings be happy. May all beings be peaceful.