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Buddhadharma : Spring 2017
40 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 7 the predominant reaction, emotion, and mental state of the moment. Looking at the world around us, we clearly see there is no shortage of beings who have equated emotional reactivity with free- dom. Racist or abusive language becomes a right because it is part of our freedom. We can strike out at another in anger because we are free to do so. Neither metta nor mindfulness condemns the tur- bulence and power of our emotional and reactive inner world or suggests that we should suppress or ignore the impulses and emotional reactions that arise; the suggestion is to bring a gentle awareness into that world out of concern for the well-being of all beings. We learn to bring into the world of emo- tional turbulence a few simple questions: Does this lead to suffering or the end of suffering? Does this lead to a deeper sense of relatedness or to increasing alienation? Does this lead toward freedom or away from a liberated heart? Immeasurable kindness is not so much concerned with how we feel but how we relate to all feelings, people, events, and experiences. Kindness is only meaningful if it is embodied, the ground of our speech, acts, and choices. It is returning again and again to the commitment and intention to abide in kindness and to befriend all moments of experience. It is learning to sustain that intention and to allow it to be the guide through the tangled and complex world of emotion, relationship, and action. A parent with a newborn child gets up in the night to tend to its needs; it may be the very last thing he or she feels like doing, yet a parent is guided by the commitment to care and not how he or she feels in that moment. A friend in distress reaches out to us for help—we drop our busyness and respond. It may not be how we feel, but our response is guided by a deeper sense of compassion. A frail and elderly per- son stumbles on the road in front us—unhesitatingly we offer a supportive hand without that act being filtered through the lens of how we feel. People on a meditative pathway will find themselves in many moments finding their way to their meditation cush- ion or seat even though they might in that moment feel that it would be much easier to follow an avenue of distraction or avoidance. These are all acts of embodying a deeper commitment to aspirations and intentions rather than following the predominant mind state or feeling of the moment. The pathway of metta has mindfulness woven into it. It is a path that asks us to remember the intentions that heal and liberate in all moments of forgetfulness. The path of liberation and transfor- mation found in the brahma viharas is concerned withwhatwedoandhowweliveasmuchasitis concerned with inner development. We do not have to feel generous in order to live with generosity; We do not have to feel generous in order to live with generosity; we do not always have to feel compassion in order to respond with compassion. ➤ continued on page 82