Over the next 5 weeks we will look at our relationship with people. I think the best way to do this is through the five categories of Metta – a benefactor, self, close friend or family member, neutral person and a difficult person. The natural function of Metta is to promote universal friendliness and help us develop a strong relationship with others. We will start this inquiry tomorrow night by looking into our relationship with a benefactor.
Benefactors are people we like and admire. They are traditionally highly respected living individuals like a teacher. However, I have heard teachers open this category to include pets and deceased persons. We practice with this category by remembering the benefactor’s kindness and virtue and then using that memory to access kindness and virtue within ourselves. Ultimately we want to exist in the world exhibiting behavior that is non-harming, non-greedy and with wisdom. We experience this through the practice of Metta; more specifically through placing our attention on the virtues of a benefactor.
Understanding this got me to thinking. Why are benefactors so important? Does simply calling to mind a benefactor have a positive effect on you? What does this say about us as human beings? Do you feel alive when you are in the presence of people you admire? If so, why do you think that happens? Are benefactors really just another word for the heroes in our lives or are they something different?
We explore these questions and more tomorrow – as we look at our relationship with a benefactor. Until then…