Resuming his series on the Four Noble Truths, Joseph continues his discussion of the second step on the noble Eightfold Path, Right Thought, addressing the role that it has in cultivating goodwill and loving kindness.
Click here to catch up with part one.
Loving Kindness and Right Thought (Opening)
Going through life with right thought is so crucial because our views lead to the way we think about things and those thoughts lead to our most regrettable actions. Joseph discusses the importance of right thought and addresses the aspect of right thought that cultivates goodwill and Metta (loving-kindness) within us.
“There is great purity in moments of genuine Metta, because in those moments there is nothing unwholesome or harmful. The only wish is for others or ourselves to be happy.”
Joseph explains the function of Metta and how it works when we practice it without attachment. He discusses the boundless nature of Metta and its power to embrace all beings, not just those close to us.
“Although we derive great benefit from the feeling and practice of Metta, Metta itself does not seek self-benefit. It is not offered with the expectation of anything in return. Even when we direct Metta towards ourselves, it is simply the gateway to an open heart; and this has some very powerful consequences, not having expectation.”
Near Enemy of Metta (17:10)
Although it is easy to recognize the value of the state of Metta, there are many times where we feel it lacking in our lives; times when our hearts are not open or soft, when our minds are not pliable. Joseph discusses the powerful force of desire in the mind that masquerades as love, but merely obstructs and undermines it.
“The confusion of the two states of love and desire has enormous implications for our relationships and how we live our lives.”
Simplicity of Kindness (29:00)
In our understanding and practice of loving-kindness, it can be easier to connect with the “kindness” aspect rather than the “love” aspect. This is because of the complexity of the idea of love in our society. Joseph talks about how easy it is to become disaffected or discouraged when we start to compare our own love to the picture of love that western society delivers, and how the elemental nature of kindness makes it a much easier approach to begin with.
We Are all in the Same Boat (34:50)
Loving-kindness arises quite spontaneously when we seek out and relate to the good in people. Joseph talks about the effort required of us to change our habits of aversion and see the best in others. A good way to practice this is by recognizing that we are all human beings and all suffering in some way.
“As we develop this habit of seeing the good, even as we recognize the complexity of the whole person, we really begin to respond in much more generous and loving ways.”