Charity, Lovableness, And Lovingkindness (Metta)

And here we have quite a beautiful point about metta, or lovingkindness practice, as it pertains to one’s enemies:

In his closing discussion on loving-kindness, Buddhaghosa asks, ‘What is the proximate cause of loving-kindness?’ The answer is the observation of lovableness in the person to whom you are attending.

B. Alan Wallace, The Four Immeasurables: Practices to Open the Heart, p. 112

Dang, that’s good!

Attending to what’s lovable in another being naturally gives rise to lovingkindness. Of course, this is a practice as the attention needs, more and more often, to be directed to another’s lovableness. The attention needs to be turned in that direction.

Riffing, I might say that charitableness begets attention to lovableness, which begets the natural expression of lovingkindness.

If this is correct, then learning to be charitable to one’s prima facie enemies and rivals–no easy thing at first–is a necessary prerequisite. Once we learn to soften the edges of our views of those whom we’ve tended to dislike, we might create room enough to attend to what’s lovable, or at least likable, about this being. And once we’re able to give ourselves up to what’s lovable or at least likable about so and so, then, boy, right then and there we’re able to start chipping away at some of our enmities.

And, geez, without enmities, wouldn’t we resemble Christ, if only a bit?

Alan Wallace tells the story of a Tibetan Buddhist Tenzen Choedak. This might be a good place to conclude this post:

Tenzin Choedak was the personal physician of the Dalai Lama in Tibet in the late fifties. He was a monk, and an outstanding physician and healer. When the Dalai Lama fled Tibet, this man was captured by the Chinese Communists. For about eighteen years (!), he was imprisoned in a concentration camp, tortured, and given pig swill to eat. Eventually they released him, on the death of Mao Zedong. Before long he got out of Tibet, was able to rejoin the Dalai Lama, and was immediately reinstated as his personal physician. His comment, which I found stunning–and I simply believe him–was that during those eighteen years he never harbored hostility, anger or hatred towards the Chinese. (p. 101)