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Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

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Throughout our lives we long to love ourselves more deeply and find a greater sense of connection with others. Our fear of intimacy—both with others and with ourselves—creates feelings of pain and longing. But these feelings can also awaken in us the desire for freedom and the willingness to take up the spiritual path. In this inspiring book, Sharon Salzberg, one of Americ Throughout our lives we long to love ourselves more deeply and find a greater sense of connection with others. Our fear of intimacy—both with others and with ourselves—creates feelings of pain and longing. But these feelings can also awaken in us the desire for freedom and the willingness to take up the spiritual path. In this inspiring book, Sharon Salzberg, one of America's leading spiritual teachers, shows us how the Buddhist path of lovingkindness ( metta in Pali), can help us discover the radiant, joyful heart within each of us. This practice of lovingkindness is revolutionary because it has the power to radically change our lives, helping us create true happiness in ourselves and genuine compassion for others. The Buddha described the nature of such a spiritual path as "the liberation of the heart, which is love." The author draws on simple Buddhist teachings, wisdom stories from various traditions, guided meditation practices, and her own experience from twenty-five years of practice and teaching to illustrate how each one of us can cultivate love, compassion, joy, and equanimity—the four "heavenly abodes" of traditional Buddhism.


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Throughout our lives we long to love ourselves more deeply and find a greater sense of connection with others. Our fear of intimacy—both with others and with ourselves—creates feelings of pain and longing. But these feelings can also awaken in us the desire for freedom and the willingness to take up the spiritual path. In this inspiring book, Sharon Salzberg, one of Americ Throughout our lives we long to love ourselves more deeply and find a greater sense of connection with others. Our fear of intimacy—both with others and with ourselves—creates feelings of pain and longing. But these feelings can also awaken in us the desire for freedom and the willingness to take up the spiritual path. In this inspiring book, Sharon Salzberg, one of America's leading spiritual teachers, shows us how the Buddhist path of lovingkindness ( metta in Pali), can help us discover the radiant, joyful heart within each of us. This practice of lovingkindness is revolutionary because it has the power to radically change our lives, helping us create true happiness in ourselves and genuine compassion for others. The Buddha described the nature of such a spiritual path as "the liberation of the heart, which is love." The author draws on simple Buddhist teachings, wisdom stories from various traditions, guided meditation practices, and her own experience from twenty-five years of practice and teaching to illustrate how each one of us can cultivate love, compassion, joy, and equanimity—the four "heavenly abodes" of traditional Buddhism.

30 review for Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kim Olver

    I surprised myself once when I took part in a values clarification exercise. I always thought honesty was my number one value. I believe very strongly in honesty and integrity but what I realized after completing this values activity was that if push came to shove, I would choose kindness over honesty every time. The highest value by which I live my life is kindness. That is not to say, I'm right and if you would choose honesty or any other value that you would be wrong. It's simply to say that I surprised myself once when I took part in a values clarification exercise. I always thought honesty was my number one value. I believe very strongly in honesty and integrity but what I realized after completing this values activity was that if push came to shove, I would choose kindness over honesty every time. The highest value by which I live my life is kindness. That is not to say, I'm right and if you would choose honesty or any other value that you would be wrong. It's simply to say that in my life, I have chosen kindness as my highest purpose. Therefore, when I saw a book entitled, Loving-Kindness, you can imagine it caught my attention. I was not surprised to enjoy reading it. Ms. Salzberg takes Buddhist psychology and simplifies it to a way of living that resonates with me and I'm sure it will with many of my readers.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marta

    "Love can uproot fear or anger or guilt, because it is a greater power." This is an amazing, life-changing, immensely wise book that everyone should read. Sharon Salzberg explains the Buddha's teachings about practicing lovingkidness, sympathetic joy, compassion and equanimity, together which brings us happiness. She illustrates the impediments to this practice - clinging, judgment, envy, anger, fear, and so forth - with tremendous insight. At the end of each chapter, she gives concrete, detaile "Love can uproot fear or anger or guilt, because it is a greater power." This is an amazing, life-changing, immensely wise book that everyone should read. Sharon Salzberg explains the Buddha's teachings about practicing lovingkidness, sympathetic joy, compassion and equanimity, together which brings us happiness. She illustrates the impediments to this practice - clinging, judgment, envy, anger, fear, and so forth - with tremendous insight. At the end of each chapter, she gives concrete, detailed instructions to meditation practice and real life practice that are simple to follow. The key to achieving happiness lies within each of us. Start by reading this book. ——————- Second read: My husband and I read through this book together by reading a few pages every night. It was a great conversation starter and we have learned a great deal. It has improved our relationship and outlook on the world. It is such a beautiful book that teaches how to truly be a better, happier person.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Clara

    I can appreciate why this book has become a classic in its circles. Although it purports to be about metta (translated from the Pali as 'lovingkindness'), both what it is and how to cultivate it, it addresses much more than that, since metta can be seen as an entry point for just about every quality and practice that the Buddha suggested we nurture in order to live happily. Irrespective of your spiritual or philosophical bent, Salzberg makes it clear that starting simply by becoming aware of the I can appreciate why this book has become a classic in its circles. Although it purports to be about metta (translated from the Pali as 'lovingkindness'), both what it is and how to cultivate it, it addresses much more than that, since metta can be seen as an entry point for just about every quality and practice that the Buddha suggested we nurture in order to live happily. Irrespective of your spiritual or philosophical bent, Salzberg makes it clear that starting simply by becoming aware of the ways in which we close ourselves off from metta--whether through pain, or fear, or denial, or simply by living life too quickly to notice--we can greatly improve the quality of our lives. It wasn't by accident that I took this book with me to a metta meditation retreat that I attended recently, and I found it a very useful complement to the work i did there. Salzberg uses clear language and includes many examples from her own life to illustrate her points, making the concepts she discusses highly relatable and all the more useful for that. Salzberg includes exercises for traditional metta meditation, as well as approaches to related contemplative practice. Well worth reading, with the potential to be life-changing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    “Throughout our lives we long to love ourselves more deeply and find a greater sense of connection with others. Our fear of intimacy- both with others and with ourselves-creates feelings of pain and longing…The Buddha described the nature of such a spiritual path as ‘the liberation of the heart, which is love.’ Drawing on simple Buddhist teachings, wisdom stories from various traditions, guided meditation practices…the author shows how each of us can cultivate love, compassion, joy, and equanimi “Throughout our lives we long to love ourselves more deeply and find a greater sense of connection with others. Our fear of intimacy- both with others and with ourselves-creates feelings of pain and longing…The Buddha described the nature of such a spiritual path as ‘the liberation of the heart, which is love.’ Drawing on simple Buddhist teachings, wisdom stories from various traditions, guided meditation practices…the author shows how each of us can cultivate love, compassion, joy, and equanimity- the four “heavenly abodes” of traditional Buddhism.” from book jacket. Metta means love or loving kindness, and is a powerful thought to send to others. I like the guided meditation practices. “To reteach a thing of its loveliness,” is the essential practice of metta. Desire and attachment are hindrances to metta, while there are also actual enemies: anger, fear, grief, impatience (!!!!), disappointment, rejection, anxiety. The book reminds me how to be compassionate, especially towards those who cause pain. My heart is more radiant and joyful right now.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This may be the first book on meditation that serves two very simple purposes in a highly organized fashion: (1) the user's manual, meaning it is very easy to return to it as a reference point for anything you may need; and (2) a coherent argument supporting the wisdom of mudita, metta, the Dharma, etc. Among the other purposes it fulfills are a quick overview of the brahma-viharas, an efficient balancing of Buddhist stories as well as modern examples from Salzberg's personal life, an accepting This may be the first book on meditation that serves two very simple purposes in a highly organized fashion: (1) the user's manual, meaning it is very easy to return to it as a reference point for anything you may need; and (2) a coherent argument supporting the wisdom of mudita, metta, the Dharma, etc. Among the other purposes it fulfills are a quick overview of the brahma-viharas, an efficient balancing of Buddhist stories as well as modern examples from Salzberg's personal life, an accepting stance towards the theist/spiritual and non-theist/spiritual reader, and well-crafted meditations. I've read enough self-help books, I suppose, to be able to forgive a title here and there, but this title, as cheesy as it is, is quite convincing. Loving-kindness meditation has been one of my favorite tools in meditation to return to, the second one being using sound instead of breath as a place to always return to when I practice. The book, along with my usual classes on mindfulness, has finally inspired me to take my practice from a casual interest to something more akin to a dedication. As much as Jon-Kabat Zinn has to offer about the basics of mindfulness for anxiety and depression, Salzberg makes a compelling argument for why this particular 'arm' of insight meditation makes not just for a better, healthier attitude about one's mind and body, but how that branches out into living well. And I have to say, anecdotally speaking, it's had some tangible benefits. I caught myself resisting donating some books that are dear to me or that I really, truly want to read...at some point. Salzberg does document an exercise about examining this resistance and pointing out how much suffering it did/could/would cause you. So I worked through it and donated some books to Claremont's Prison Library Project, because they need them more than I. Since donating them I haven't thought much about missing them, because, well, that grasping is one of the multitudes of transient attachments we experience everyday. And it feels like a load off, for sure. Naturally, loving-kindness does not work for everybody. But I love how vulnerable of a meditation it is, and I enjoy reflecting on what is vulnerable about it. In some ways it has made me reflect on the defense mechanisms I've erected just to create a narrative about my strength, my pride, my purported manliness. The book fabulously disentangled some of my burning questions about the practice: (1) how does one cultivate that objective 'viewer' above the constant broadcast of images and thoughts and ensure it does not make one detached from the goings-on around them; and (2) at what point does opening oneself to the suffering of the world just lead to anger or grief, and how can that path be navigated? That the book is so distilled for through-reading and additionally easy to return to as a guide is impressive, possibly a feat in craft for books like this. It excites me to remain in stillness. Here's hoping I enjoy myself at InsightLA tomorrow.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Saleh MoonWalker

    از کتاب های خوبی که راجع به بودیسم در زمینه مهربانی هستش. نثرش ساده س و خیلی سریع خوندنش به پایان میرسه و مثل آثار خوب در این زمینه، بعد از خوندنش حس خوبی رو بهتون میده. یاد میده که چجوری شاد و مهربان باشین. The Dalai Lama has said: 'My religion is kindness.' If we all adopted such a stance and embodied it in thought and action, inner and outer peace would be immediate, for in reality they are never not present, only obscured, waiting to be dis-covered. This is the work and the power of lovingkin از کتاب های خوبی که راجع به بودیسم در زمینه مهربانی هستش. نثرش ساده س و خیلی سریع خوندنش به پایان میرسه و مثل آثار خوب در این زمینه، بعد از خوندنش حس خوبی رو بهتون میده. یاد میده که چجوری شاد و مهربان باشین. The Dalai Lama has said: 'My religion is kindness.' If we all adopted such a stance and embodied it in thought and action, inner and outer peace would be immediate, for in reality they are never not present, only obscured, waiting to be dis-covered. This is the work and the power of lovingkindness, the embrace that allows no separation between self, others, and events - the affirmation and honoring of a core goodness in others and in oneself. The practice of lovingkindness is, in fact, the ground of mindfulness practice, requiring the same nonjudging, nongrasping, nonrejecting orientation toward the present moment, an orientation that invites and makes room for calmness, clarity of mind and heart, and understanding.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Salzberg is a queen in the meditation field, and although I own a few of her books, this is the first one I actually read. I was inspired after doing a 4-week meditation series with my yoga teacher who talked about lovingkindness, and I thought--hey, I have a book on that at home! I've started using a pencil to underline and notate my spirituality books--there's too much good stuff I'll miss otherwise. This book got LOTS of underlining...so many beautiful concepts about the need to let go of our Salzberg is a queen in the meditation field, and although I own a few of her books, this is the first one I actually read. I was inspired after doing a 4-week meditation series with my yoga teacher who talked about lovingkindness, and I thought--hey, I have a book on that at home! I've started using a pencil to underline and notate my spirituality books--there's too much good stuff I'll miss otherwise. This book got LOTS of underlining...so many beautiful concepts about the need to let go of our expectations of others, to be kind to those who frustrate us, love us, annoy us, and everything in between. Really, the tagline should be: just let others be who they're going to be, and love them anyway. I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it!

  8. 5 out of 5

    David A. Guinee

    As a relatively inexperienced meditator, I have found this to be a helpful guidebook and will refer to it for exercises. Since this is Buddhism filtered through a Western lens, I sometimes feel like I'm being sort of person who says, "I love the blues. I listen to Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Kentgen

    This is a classic and a must read for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the mindfulness genre.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Philippe Desaulniers

    Inspiring reading. It has provided me with answers on the questions I had on the practice of metta. My meditation background is mainly on the vipassana technique as taught by S.N. Goenka, which only gives a little place to metta, and had let me a bit confused on the subject. It was interesting to see how the two approaches seem to take paths in opposite directions (different starting points, and different sequence of progress) to get to the same goal. As another reviewer pointed out, the chapter Inspiring reading. It has provided me with answers on the questions I had on the practice of metta. My meditation background is mainly on the vipassana technique as taught by S.N. Goenka, which only gives a little place to metta, and had let me a bit confused on the subject. It was interesting to see how the two approaches seem to take paths in opposite directions (different starting points, and different sequence of progress) to get to the same goal. As another reviewer pointed out, the chapter on generosity is especially inspiring, as it provides very concrete examples on things one can do to live better, even without having to go into intense meditation practice. For readers (especially westerners I suppose) new to mediation and Buddhist philosophy, I think this book can be a very good primer on what it is all about. It covers all of the essential, told with a soft and gentle voice, with many concrete real-life examples, and little or none of the "technical details". As an example, it is impressive that the author manages to get the essence of Buddhist philosophy across without a single direct reference or explanation on the Four Noble Truths or the Eightfold Noble Path, even though both concepts are impregnated throughout the book as ideas to put in practice... Will certainly become a book to return to every now and then to refresh my perspective and motivation on the path...

  11. 4 out of 5

    kat

    This was a good exercise in bearing witness to my own judging mind and my uneasy relationship to the more spiritual aspects of meditation. I originally started it before reading Full Catastrophe Living, put it down about 1/3 way through for a few months, and then came back to it as I wrap up my 8-week mindfulness workshop. Whether or not it's a good fit for me, I do think it's interesting to at least have some exposure to the lovingkindness practice while I continue to experiment with making mindf This was a good exercise in bearing witness to my own judging mind and my uneasy relationship to the more spiritual aspects of meditation. I originally started it before reading Full Catastrophe Living, put it down about 1/3 way through for a few months, and then came back to it as I wrap up my 8-week mindfulness workshop. Whether or not it's a good fit for me, I do think it's interesting to at least have some exposure to the lovingkindness practice while I continue to experiment with making mindfulness and meditation an ongoing part of my life. I also think it's valuable to gain a sense of context for the Eastern spiritual traditions (such as meditation and yoga) that we've imported to the West. While written for Western audiences, this is essentially as much of a beginner's guide to Buddhism as it is a beginner's guide to meditation. If you're looking for a practical meditation guide, definitely start with Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, which is much more down-to-earth. While this one does contain some exercises, I found them much easier to understand once I had a little practical meditation experience under my belt.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cindywho

    This one is alternately encouraging and overwhelming, with odd exotic anecdotes. It's all about trying to be a kinder, better person - always a bit of a squirm inducing subject, but definitely worth reading about. I've been meditating regularly for a couple of months now and am hoping to wear some happier ruts in my brain. (August 12, 2006)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    This is in the "Insight Meditation" tradition of Buddhism, and is basically about compassion as a path to more happiness in your life. If you read much of this type of thing, you're going to have a lot of "well, this sounds familiar" moments, and there's nothing wrong with that - they're all going to be dealing with a lot of the same basic teachings. Still, there should be something that's distinctly the author's contribution - personal experiences, stories, personal insights and so on. So I'd g This is in the "Insight Meditation" tradition of Buddhism, and is basically about compassion as a path to more happiness in your life. If you read much of this type of thing, you're going to have a lot of "well, this sounds familiar" moments, and there's nothing wrong with that - they're all going to be dealing with a lot of the same basic teachings. Still, there should be something that's distinctly the author's contribution - personal experiences, stories, personal insights and so on. So I'd give this book four stars ont the basic teachings, since she does a good job of presenting those, but only three on unique contribution - her stories for the most part didn't really contribute much. I can't give the average of three and a half stars, though, so I'll err on the side of generosity - somehow fitting considering the subject matter of the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sirpa Grierson

    A profound, yet simple book on practicing "metta," or lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg, the founder of Insight Meditation Society. We can all benefit from the four ideas of lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity, whether or not we choose to meditate. All people deserve our compassionate attention and perhaps those who seem as the least likely candidates, need it the most. The beauty of metta is that as we learn to see ourselves with clarity, we will then move from this cent A profound, yet simple book on practicing "metta," or lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg, the founder of Insight Meditation Society. We can all benefit from the four ideas of lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity, whether or not we choose to meditate. All people deserve our compassionate attention and perhaps those who seem as the least likely candidates, need it the most. The beauty of metta is that as we learn to see ourselves with clarity, we will then move from this center of compassionate acceptance towards truly loving others.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dominique

    This was a wonderful book the foundation of happiness for all of us. Sharon Salzberg has a true gift for putting into words and examples the teachings of the Buddhist path so that it is clear on how they do truly apply to everyday life. I particularly used this book to help me work through a situation where I was so hurt, angry and betrayed by a family member that I couldn't find the place in my heart to feel love. I knew it was there, but I just couldn't access it. Truly, if every human being o This was a wonderful book the foundation of happiness for all of us. Sharon Salzberg has a true gift for putting into words and examples the teachings of the Buddhist path so that it is clear on how they do truly apply to everyday life. I particularly used this book to help me work through a situation where I was so hurt, angry and betrayed by a family member that I couldn't find the place in my heart to feel love. I knew it was there, but I just couldn't access it. Truly, if every human being on earth would read this book and apply the teachings our world would be a very different place.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dharmamitra Jeff Stefani

    Given to me By a fellow Mitra, Pat, from Missoula. This book was so essential in my Dhyanic breakthroughs, via, the Metta Bhavana. I give it a full 5-STARS (I admit, i am a bit liberal with the stars, i always 'round-up', from 4 1/2 to 5. But truthfully, If the book is a 3, I will Just stop, Not finish it, and find a 5-STAR book. My time and my Intentions, are valuable. My full mindfulness is Priceless. Only 4 and 5 star books are worthy of my mindfulness! Arrogance? You might think so. I think Given to me By a fellow Mitra, Pat, from Missoula. This book was so essential in my Dhyanic breakthroughs, via, the Metta Bhavana. I give it a full 5-STARS (I admit, i am a bit liberal with the stars, i always 'round-up', from 4 1/2 to 5. But truthfully, If the book is a 3, I will Just stop, Not finish it, and find a 5-STAR book. My time and my Intentions, are valuable. My full mindfulness is Priceless. Only 4 and 5 star books are worthy of my mindfulness! Arrogance? You might think so. I think of it as tough Love!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Satia

    My mother and I are reading this book along with my step-sister. It's sort of a family affair, if you will. I loved this book and plan on rereading it immediately as part of my daily practice. For more: http://satiasreviews.blogspot.com/201... PS: I'll also be rereading Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. My mother and I are reading this book along with my step-sister. It's sort of a family affair, if you will. I loved this book and plan on rereading it immediately as part of my daily practice. For more: http://satiasreviews.blogspot.com/201... PS: I'll also be rereading Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia

    I love this book. Picked up at a used bookstore at a difficult time in my life and it gave me so much peace and a more positive outlook - it's one of the few books I would call life changing, and I reread it a while ago (a rare distinction usually reserved for my favorite novels!) I can't wait to read her other books!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    This book is doing more to spread well-being than the many I'v read thus far. Practicing and teaching metta - lovingkindness - is being of incredibly great benefit. Thank you, Sharon Salzberg!

  20. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Ibrahim ♥

    Long-winded and vaguely mystical it made my head spin!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Some good moments... but this book took me forever to get through. It was a little too out there (even for me) I would read it before bed to help me fall asleep. Ha!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nitya

    It took me forever to read this because it is not light reading. It is a book to be studied and practiced, with passages underlined and delighted in. I am not a Buddhist, though I do find myself drawn to teachers who are. I bought this book because of the title, and because I am familiar with Sharon Salzberg through the meditation app insight timer. (Which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to begin a meditation practice.) Who doesn't want to be happy? And yet so often we fail to achieve th It took me forever to read this because it is not light reading. It is a book to be studied and practiced, with passages underlined and delighted in. I am not a Buddhist, though I do find myself drawn to teachers who are. I bought this book because of the title, and because I am familiar with Sharon Salzberg through the meditation app insight timer. (Which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to begin a meditation practice.) Who doesn't want to be happy? And yet so often we fail to achieve that. Happiness remains elusive to most people. I have recognized this in my own life, and the fact that my happiness has been dependent on external, impermanent things has been disconcerting and has inspired my search for real meaning and true happiness. "To be truly happy in this world is a revolutionary act because true happiness depends upon a revolution in ourselves. It is a radical change of view that liberates us so that we know who we are most deeply and can acknowledge our enormous ability to love." Lovingkindness is a deep practice which begins with lovingkindness (metta) toward oneself. The author gives detailed instructions on the meditative practice of metta, which is a way of blessing one's self, then extending blessings to others. There are specific phrases one can use- "May all beings be happy. May all beings be free of suffering. May all beings know peace. May all beings awaken to the light of their own true nature.(lots of different versions, this is one of them.)" But the book is much more than instruction in metta. There are Buddhist teachings explained and stories used to illustrate teachings in a practical, relatable manner. These teachings are simple and easy to grasp for a novice like myself, while inspiring me to further my practice and study. Most books I like to pass on to a friend when I am done, but I am not done with this one. I want to study it more, take more notes, make sure I've learned all it has to teach me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Appreciated the exercises throughout the book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Golden Brown

    really good! a bit "colorblind", but overall quite good, particularly the sections on the heavenly abodes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Orth

    Wonderful read for anyone with a sincere interest in Buddhist studies.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Iona Stewart

    Sharon Salzberg has practiced Buddhist meditation for many years, so the book provides much information about Buddhism. Though reading the book requires focus and concentration, I found it to be enlightening and inspiring. It also absolutely exudes lovingkindness, which is a main factor attracting me to a book, though I was not previously familiar with the term. Lovingkindness is a translation of the Pali word “metta”, which is the first of the brahma-viharas, or the “heavenly abodes”. The others Sharon Salzberg has practiced Buddhist meditation for many years, so the book provides much information about Buddhism. Though reading the book requires focus and concentration, I found it to be enlightening and inspiring. It also absolutely exudes lovingkindness, which is a main factor attracting me to a book, though I was not previously familiar with the term. Lovingkindness is a translation of the Pali word “metta”, which is the first of the brahma-viharas, or the “heavenly abodes”. The others – compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity - “grow out of metta, which supports and extends these states”. The author is open about her own shortcomings and episodes that have contributed to her development, and provides us with many personal stories that add to the book’s readability. The Buddha presented the metta meditation as an antidote to fear. A mind involved with lovingkindness cannot be overcome by fear. Lovingkindness overcomes the illusion of separatenesss and all its accompanying states - “fear, alienation, loneliness, and despair – all of the feelings of fragmentation”. When we feel love, we can allow ourselves to be fully aware of the entirety of life – both pleasures and pains. “Love can uproot fear or anger or guilt, because it is a greater power”. Metta begins with loving ourselves. We ourselves deserve our love and affection. We must focus on the goodness in others, and will thus forge a connection to them. The force of metta “allows us to cohere, to come together within ourselves and with all beings”. What I most appreciated in the book was the numerous exercises. The first exercise advises us to call to mind kind or good actions we have done, or qualities we appreciate about ourselves. In the second exercise we practice befriending ourselves by repeating phrases relating to what we wish for ourselves. There are four phrases generally used: “May I be free from danger.” “May I have mental happiness.” “May I have physical happiness.” “May I have ease of well-being.” I personally have chosen the phrases: “May I be healed, completely healed.” “May I fulfill my life purpose.” “May I be loving.” “May I be blissful.” We begin by reflecting on the good within us or our wish to be happy. Then we repeat the four phrases we have chosen, again and again. After doing this exercise I feel really good. In later exercises we repeat the chosen phrases directed towards others – a benefactor, a neutral person, a difficult person, difficult aspects of oneself, all beings, all females, all males, all enlightened beings, all those in ignorance, etc, etc. There are chapters on facets of lovingkindness, hindrances to lovingkindness, working with anger and aversion, developing the compassionate heart, the power of generosity, etc, etc. (There is also a useful exercise on compassion for those who cause pain.) I found this to be a most wonderful book, which I will need to re-read several times. I greatly recommend this well-written and absolutely inspiring book to all those who wish to develop a loving heart. I will be looking out for other books by this author.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    interesting quotes: "This is what should be done By those who are skilled in goodness, And who know the path of peace: Let them be able and upright, Straightforward and gentle in speech. Humble and not conceited, Contented and easily satisfied. Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways. Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful, Not proud and demanding in nature. Let them not do the slightest thing That the wise would later reprove. Wishing: in gladness and in safety, May all beings be at ease. Whatever l interesting quotes: "This is what should be done By those who are skilled in goodness, And who know the path of peace: Let them be able and upright, Straightforward and gentle in speech. Humble and not conceited, Contented and easily satisfied. Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways. Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful, Not proud and demanding in nature. Let them not do the slightest thing That the wise would later reprove. Wishing: in gladness and in safety, May all beings be at ease. Whatever living beings there may be; Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, The great or the mighty, medium, short or small, The seen and the unseen, Those living near and far away, Those born and to-be-born - May all beings be at ease! Let none deceive another, Or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or ill-will Wish harm upon another. Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings; Radiating kindness over the entire world: Spreading upward to the skies, And downward to the depths; Outward and unbounded, Freed from hatred and ill-will. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down, Free from drowsiness, One should sustain this recollection. This is said to be the sublime abiding. By not holding to fixed views, The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision, Being freedfrom all sense desires, Is not born again into this world." (pp. vii-viii) The Buddha's words on Lovingkindness (Metta Sutta) "The Dalai Lama has said: 'My religion is kindness.' If we all adopted such a stance and embodied it in thought and action, inner and outer peace would be immediate, for in reality they are never not present, only obscured, waiting to be dis-covered. This is the work and the power of lovingkindness, the embrace that allows no separation between self, others, and events - the affirmation and honoring of a core goodness in others and in oneself. The practice of lovingkindness is, in fact, the ground of mindfulness practice, requiring the same nonjudging, nongrasping, nonrejecting orientation toward the present moment, an orientation that invites and makes room for calmness, clarity of mind and heart, and understanding." (p. ix) Jon Kabat-Zinn "We can travel a long way and do many things, but our deepest happiness is not born from accumulating new experiences. It is born from letting go of what is unnecessary, and knowing ourselves to be always at home." (p. 7) "Life is just as it is, despite our protests. For all of us there is a constant succession of pleasurable and painful experiences." (p. 9)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Reid

    I have read many of Sharon Salzberg's books, and must admit to being a bit disappointed in the later ones. These tend to be more formulaic and self-helpy rather than focusing on the dharma and its application to our daily lives. But this is an earlier book (published in 1995) and cleaves much more closely to Buddhist orthodoxy and a true and philosophical exploration of the implications of those teachings for how we get through life. Not that I don't understand why she would have made the choice I have read many of Sharon Salzberg's books, and must admit to being a bit disappointed in the later ones. These tend to be more formulaic and self-helpy rather than focusing on the dharma and its application to our daily lives. But this is an earlier book (published in 1995) and cleaves much more closely to Buddhist orthodoxy and a true and philosophical exploration of the implications of those teachings for how we get through life. Not that I don't understand why she would have made the choice to become a writer of broader appeal—not only is it undoubtedly more lucrative, but one has the opportunity to reach more people that way. Still, there is no substitute for the depth of psychic experience achievable when the deepest teachings of the Buddha are thoroughly explored. This is such a book. Salzberg's comprehension of the concept of Lovingkindness is thorough and insightful. I have done a few retreats with her; she is a marvelous teacher who has incorporated the dharma deeply into her soul, or so it seems to me, and this natural affinity makes her explanations and examples more cogent than they might be from someone who was speaking more theoretically. The principle underlying lovingkindness (metta in the Pali of the time the teachings were committed to writing) is that we are all interconnected, and therefore any unkindness to others does harm to ourselves. It is also axiomatic that putting positivity out into the world will yield positive outcomes. And forgiveness, a huge part of being a practitioner of metta, is seen as easing not only the pain of the one who wronged you, but your own pain of anger and resentment. Self-forgiveness eases shame and remorse. One of the most amazing (yet simple) insights the Buddha achieved is the fact that we humans create our own misery. While it is true that there are circumstances which affect us negatively, it is our reaction that perpetuates the harm. Similarly, when good happens we most often focus on our anxiety that it might not last, rather than treasuring it in the moment it is here. Salzberg makes clear in this wonderful book that metta is one of the primary ways we can extricate ourselves from this self-destructive pattern of behavior. As she writes, "the basis of the Buddha's psychological teaching is that our efforts to control what is inherently uncontrollable cannot yield the security, safety, and happiness we seek." "To be truly happy in this world is a revolutionary act." Despite the misunderstandings of the dharma that are perpetuated around the world, this expresses the most fundamental truth: that the purpose of studying and following the wisdom of the Buddha is to achieve a true and lasting happiness, both for ourselves and others. I am convinced that this slim volume can be a major source of healing for the world.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Thoma

    The premise of the book is simple: to accept what comes into our lives, let go of what leaves, and to lead with kindness. Sounds simple enough, right? Salzberg breaks it down into abstract, but digestible chunks. Some thoughts to contemplate: - We may feel isolated by the way we relate to relationships or objects we accumulate- in a "having" state - "Desire brings fear because we look to an unstable world to bring us stable happiness." - Compassion, unlike anger, fear or grief, doesn't drain us, bu The premise of the book is simple: to accept what comes into our lives, let go of what leaves, and to lead with kindness. Sounds simple enough, right? Salzberg breaks it down into abstract, but digestible chunks. Some thoughts to contemplate: - We may feel isolated by the way we relate to relationships or objects we accumulate- in a "having" state - "Desire brings fear because we look to an unstable world to bring us stable happiness." - Compassion, unlike anger, fear or grief, doesn't drain us, but feeds us - Compassion as the simple expressions, like saying "hello," asking what happened, and being observant/present - "In a battle the winner and the loser bother lose."(Those defeated lose power, freedom, property, family, their lives.... and those who win get the hatred, fear and envy of those they've defeated.) - Spend your time with wise and goodhearted people - Spiritual work can never be for ourselves alone, no matter what we believe going into practice - Living by the adage 'ignorance is bliss' actually limits our experience and gives us a false sense of confidence and certainty. Learn to relate to things fully, insecurity and all. - Chinese poem: "Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, A cool breeze in summer, snow in winter- If your mind is not clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life." - Generosity as characterized by letting go/relinquishing, and taking delight in our generosity helps our practice. It acknowledges that we have nothing that we can hold on to anyway. - If we truly love ourselves, we would never hurt another (moral conduct as second to generosity in the basis of spiritual practice) - "If at a given time we experience the fruits of a past action, wholesome or unwholesome, our experience is the experience of all beings." - We can craft our lives through the embodiment of lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Hunter

    Sharon Salzberg is a gem! In my experience, lovingkindness meditation, or metta, is an essential life practice for peacebuilders. Loving self, friends, acquaintances, enemies - all are difficult. Thankfully, Salzberg provides very clear explanations for how one can move toward a life marked by greater love and compassion. For Christians and other faith practitioners, metta offers a practical application of the Golden Rule and Jesus' radical teachings on loving enemies. Instead of jumping straight Sharon Salzberg is a gem! In my experience, lovingkindness meditation, or metta, is an essential life practice for peacebuilders. Loving self, friends, acquaintances, enemies - all are difficult. Thankfully, Salzberg provides very clear explanations for how one can move toward a life marked by greater love and compassion. For Christians and other faith practitioners, metta offers a practical application of the Golden Rule and Jesus' radical teachings on loving enemies. Instead of jumping straight to loving enemies, Sharon insists that we start with loving ourselves. Otherwise, true love of enemies is impossible. If the book resonates with you, you might also look into Salberg's audio guided lovingkindness meditations. I find Sharon's expert guidance through these meditations to be helpful for my own meditation practice.

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