cover image Living Kindness: Metta Practice for the Whole of Our Lives

Living Kindness: Metta Practice for the Whole of Our Lives

Kevin Griffin. Shambhala, $21.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-64547-125-7

Griffin (One Breath at a Time), a Buddhist teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, explores the Buddhist concept of metta, or loving-kindness, as a disposition toward affection and care. Drawing from ancient Buddhist discourses called suttas, Griffin explains “what the Buddha was talking about when he said we should offer loving-kindness to all beings” and contends that metta is a posture of goodwill toward others and oneself. One needs to let go of greed, hate, and delusion to experience metta, Griffin posits, adding that dedicated meditation is also required to manifest compassion. He suggests that Western Buddhists miss the point of metta when they use it as a feel-good practice intended to produce pleasure; rather, authentic engagement with metta involves grappling with one’s negative thought patterns and self-destructive behaviors. Through a close reading of the Buddha’s teachings on loving-kindness, Griffin outlines key principles for putting metta into practice, including cherishing “all beings” and refraining from wishing harm on others. The lucid analysis of Buddhist texts and the jargon-free examination of metta make this an ideal primer on a core element of Buddhist thought and practice. Those new to the faith would do well to start here. (Dec.)