on 15 March 2008
This may be personal to me, but I tend to fear that books on this topic will be a bit drippy, nebulously positive feelgood items. Happily, Sharon Salzberg is a true teacher in the Theravadan tradition and helps me move towards lovingkindness as i think it was meant. As she presents it, lovingkindness is clarity about the flaws in the world, ourselves, other people. Lovingkindness is a compassionate non-denial of what things are like. Oddly, lovingkindness turns out to be the antidote to fear. It opens us up to the world, rather than trying to drape existence in pink positive soft-focus light. Open, loving, fearless, accurate, non-narrow, non-petty; we've got a lot to thank the Buddha for, and this is a truly wonderful exposition by Sharon Salzberg. She provides great stories, deep understanding and, critically, the kind of precise, technical meditation tips that are the blessing of the Theravadan tradition. There are a lot of solid, traditional metta practices straight from the canon summarised in here. A book that I will be mining for years.
on 17 July 2009
I bought this book a few years ago, in "small hardback" form. It has become my companion wherever I go. It's somehow comforting to know that it's always close to me.
Whenever I'm feeling a little afraid, a little unsure or a little lost, I can always pick up and read this marvellous little book. I often open it randomly & just read what it opens to. It's full of lovingkindness, it makes you feel good about being human & good about life itself. It helps to make sense of this crazy mixed up thing that we call life.
IT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD TO READ THIS BOOK, I guess that's all that matters. Try it for yourself, you won't regret it.
on 14 August 1999
This is one of the few books I would actually read over and over. It's incredibly down-to-earth and is full of great quotes you keep in mind all day long. It invites you to think about your perception of yourself and others in a very different light. There is so much common sense in the buddhist way of relating to each other, but we don't often use our common sense.
on 24 September 1997
While self-help books abound, promising deliverance from all that ails us, Sharon Salzberg's "Loving Kindness, refreshes. Her writings burn themselves clean...in that, one is not tangled up with an author presenting her version of a spiritual path, rather she is the path itself, unfolding for who ever wants to journey. From the opening lines in chapter one: "We can travel a long way and do many different 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." to the last chapter, entitled, "Living Our Love", Ms. Salzberg writes with dignity and care about that which she deeply knows.
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.
on 28 May 2013
I have recently been down to my local fwbo and enroled on 2 meditation courses and also an essential buddhism course and this book was recommended to me to help with the metta meditation and back up what was been taught to us, it has been a fantastic insight to the writers life and has helped me understand what loving kindness meditation is all about, it brings up a lot of personal dilemmas which we come across in everyday life and how she managed to overcome those issues.An inspiring read.
on 14 July 2011
I've owned this book for a while now and I like to take it with me whenever I travel. I like to open its pages randomly and start reading. Whenever I do, I find that I am filled with peace, hope and a sense that I am enough and that I am filled with loving-kindness. I realise that what I am seeking is only a thought away and that I am surrounded by love, joy and compassion. Which, if you're going to read a book - is a wonderful thing to realise and feel. What's more...If feel this every time I pick it up and read it, even if i've read a particular paragraph a hundred times before.