Radiating Kindness - From Stepping Stones: Buddhist
Posted by Bonnie Rose on Jun 8, 2020
One year, at the beginning of the rainy season, the Buddha sent a group of monks to practice meditation in the nearby forest. There the monks took shelter beneath the branches of an ancient tree. The monks had no idea this enormous tree was home to several tree spirits. The tree spirits resented the arrival of the monks, and, realizing they were likely to stay for the entire rainy season, devised ways to scare them away.
Every night, when the monks were fast asleep, the tree spirits climbed down from their tree and harassed the monks with terrifying howling and screaming.
After a few nights of this, the frightened monks hurried back to the Buddha and pleaded with him to allow them to practice in a different part of the forest. The Buddha told them he would do something even better: He would give them something that would protect them. That night, he sent the monks back into the forest to dwell under the very same tree. Before they returned though, he recited the Metta (Loving Kindness) Sutra, which he urged them to recite whenever they felt fear or anger. The brief sutra begins:
This is what should be done by one who is skilled in goodness and who knows the path of peace.
May all beings be at ease! Let none deceive another or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill will wish harm upon another, even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child.
So with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings radiating kindness over the entire world.
The monks returned to the forest and took up residence under the ancient tree. Late that night, the tree spirits climbed down from the tree and once again began screeching and howling. But this time the monks chanted the Metta Sutra. With single-minded concentration on the words of the sutra, their loving kindness radiated up into the branches of the tree and spread out into the forest. The tree spirits felt the powerful effect of the monks’ loving kindness and never disrupted their practice again.