The next stage of the metta-bhavana focuses on a person close to us, whom we love and respect.After we are able to develop loving kindness within and for ourselves, it becomes easier to focus on someone close to us, and not despair when something bad befalls them or when they become angry when they are wronged (either by another person or by ourselves).
In Buddhist thought, these three qualities are referred to as “defilements of the mind.” (Gethin 1998, 80) However, in order to truly escape these cycles, it is necessary to do two things: The dangers of hatred and anger can be countered by exercising patience and tolerance, both of which are necessary to begin understanding metta.
(Visuddhimagga 9.1-3) Patience and tolerance are called “advantages,” and this is, from the standpoint of one seeking to cultivate self-discipline, a useful way to think of it.
The Visuddhimagga teaches that one cannot simply jump into metta-bhavana without first acknowledging some common affective traps.
Wrong thought, greed, and hatred are three cycles which can be escaped by cultivating metta.
The most well-known definition of “metta” is “loving kindness.” Another meaning, as Bhikkhu Bodhi translated, is “kind friendliness,” as “metta” derives from the Pali word for “friend.” “Bhavana” is usually translated as “meditation,” but it more literally means “cultivation” or “development.” During this process, loving kindness is meant to remove anger, hatred and delusion, and transform things which would normally trigger these emotions into opportunity for creative problem solving.
The metta-bhavana, while originally meant to be a deep work taken on early in the spiritual lives of Buddhist initiates, is now a practice shared by a world community.Happiness becomes important and relevant when we recognize its relationship to our actions and emotions.Suddenly, wishing for someone to have happiness, or even to create it themselves, means something.The metta-bhavana is a meditation many of you may be familiar with.The basic framework is most accessibly (in my opinion) outlined in Chapter 9 of Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga (Pali: Path of Purification), dating back to the 5th century CE.This stage is where the practitioner begins to understand the universe’s true nature: as an interdependent wholeness which, while made of many, is one.