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Buddhadharma : Spring 2017
38 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 7 ➤ familiar sniping voice of the inner critic and judge that undermines our well-being and happiness. From a Buddhist psychological perspective, ill will is rooted in fear—the fear of loss, the fear of harm. When our hearts are gripped by fear, we cre- ate the sense of “other” that we abandon, flee from, or attack. The “other” may be simply the person who annoys us with restlessness when we want calm, the unwanted person trying to sell us new windows, the person in front of us in line impeding our progress. The “other” may be whole groups of people we condemn, mistrust, or judge. The many forms of prejudice that scar our world cannot sur- vive without this aversive mechanism that creates the “other,” in turn fueling mistrust, separation, and fear. At times the “others” that are created and solidi- fied through aversion are aspects of our own being we disdain, judge, or fear: parts of our body, an illness, a chronic pain we fear and turn away from. We can be masters in the art of self-condemna- tion—disdaining ourselves and forming views of ourselves that are constructed on the foundations of self-hatred. We can have aversion for aversion, tell- ing ourselves that a better or more spiritual person would not experience such ill will, which becomes a base for further self- judgment about our imperfec- tions and inadequacies. We tell ourselves we should be a better person, yet we feel imprisoned by our own habit patterns and feel helpless in the face of them. We may have emotions of jealousy, contempt, or anxiety we feel ashamed of and turn them into the “other” we reject or endeavor to annihilate. The “other” is turned into an enemy within ourselves that we fear and condemn. The underlying narra- tive in aversion is about nonacceptance, the eternal story that I and the world need to be different from what they are if I am to be happy. In the light of understanding what it means to extend uncondi- tional friendliness to all things, we understand that aversion too asks to be befriended; it also is suffer- ing that can only end through our willingness to be intimate with the landscape of ill will, so it can be understood. The Buddha put it simply: “Hatred does not cease by hatred. By kindness alone is hatred healed. This is an eternal law.” When we read the Metta Sutta, we may believe it is impossible for us to cultivate a boundless friendli- ness. Metta does not ask for the ambitious desire to save the entire world but simply to rescue the mind and heart of this moment from the compul- sions of ill will. Metta asks us to be a guardian of all that we encounter in this moment—the events, experiences, and people who come into our world, to care for them all. Mindfulness and metta go hand in hand; both can only be cultivated in the moment we are present in; it is the only moment that can be transformed. Metta is not primarily concerned with how we feel but with the attitudinal commitment and inten- tion we bring to all moments of experience: to forsake the patterns of abandonment that aversion Metta asks us to be the guardian of all we encounter in this moment—the events, experiences, and people who come into our world, to care for them all.