Part of Buddhist teaching is Metta, the prayer of loving kindness. There are many variations and lengths ranging from very short to considerable. The format is standard, however: 1.) Start with offering loving kindness to yourself. 2.) Once comfortable with that, offer loving kindness to those you love. 3.) Next step, offer loving kindness to those you don’t know well, maybe the passerby who picked up an envelope you dropped while leaving the post office. 5.) Offer your prayer of loving kindness to all beings.
Yes, I know, I skipped number 4. The steps above are how we do a metta practice with children. However, step 4 is really the heart of this practice, and, not surprisingly, the very hardest to master.
4.) Offer loving kindness to some one who is a great negative challenge in your life, who makes you feel angry, for whom your knee jerk reaction is anything but wishing him or her well.
I have to admit, there are those who make this an uphill battle. And yet, it does seem to having a calming effect on me. Anger does not serve me well. It raises my blood pressure and it makes me darkly depressed. If you had seen me in a full on depressive state, you wouldn’t want to see it again so believe me when I say I don’t ever want to feel it again either.
The Buddhists would suggest looking at the source of anger as a Spiritual Teacher. What is the karmic lesson being offered? Can I be open to this lesson? Love is not pure until it extends to all beings.
Alternatively (or maybe a variation on the theme), some Native people believe that Trickster Coyote is the teacher of wisdom, the trickling god, who – when properly approached – can share with people some priceless wisdom. Again, there is the need to be open to that wisdom.
My own thinking is that there are personal karmic lessons and those karmic lessons that are meant for the entire culture.
If we don’t learn the lesson on offer, if we don’t embrace the priceless wisdom and somehow end that hatred that divides us, our spiritual teachers will return. The Trickster will show up again and again until we get it. They don’t give up trying.
Oh, that Trickster Coyote throwing our current political situation out into the mix once again!