Loving-Kindness Supports the World

A Thai monk I know once taught me the phrase lokopatthambhika metta or “loving-kindness supports the world.”

But how? It is difficult to imagine, for the world seems supported, or certainly permeated, by darkness, evil, hatred, violence. You might think it must be a optimist/pessimist kind of thing, you know, where the glass is either half empty or half full. That’s not it, though. It is a whole other way of thinking. It’s like when John and Yoko said war is over, if you want it.

If we want it, metta or loving-kindness can be an active force. The Tevigga Sutta says,

And he lets his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of loving-kindness, and so the second, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around, and everywhere, does he continue to pervade with a heart of loving-kindness, far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure.”

One of the Buddha’s desires was that his disciples would truly care for other beings. The Buddha knew it is very easy to understand our own sufferings, but a real challenge to understand the sufferings of another person. He said that is the real meaning of sincerity – having empathy for the situations of others. And it is not just understanding their suffering, it’s also understanding their behavior. When we develop insight into behavior and identify with the emotions that drive behavior, it’s not so easy to judge and condemn.

But, back to the question, how does loving-kindness support the world? Perhaps we can get a clue from these words by the great teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti:

The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed.”

Loving-kindness supports the world through transformation.


3 thoughts on “Loving-Kindness Supports the World

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. I hope I didn’t make it sound as though we shouldn’t have loving-kindness for ourselves. We should, and that is actually the starting point. Unless we can love ourselves, we cannot love others. With so much focus in Buddhism on self-cherishing, it is easy to forget that for some people it is difficult to accept, love, and/or forgive themselves, and that is a major source of suffering, too.

      1. Hi David,

        Thank you for your reply. No, it didn’t sound like that at all. After suffering greatly these past few decades I’ve put loving-kindness in all that I do—writing, speaking, listening. I have, however forgotten to practice loving myself, which of course is the major source of my suffering.

        I thank you again for sharing such wisdom. It is truly a reminder of where we can all find a place of healing.

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