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Metta & Karuna Practice

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Brandon Barkwell

Lori Stewart

REL 101

8 October 2017

Metta & Karuna Practice

Defining Metta and Karuna is different for everyone, yet a basic understanding of showing and practicing loving kindness and compassion to all beings of life. These two terms originate from the four Brahma Viharas. These are guidelines in which you use with your attitude towards others. These also can be extended to immeasurable scopes of beings, meaning animals, insects, objects, etc. These are part of Buddha’s teaching or in other words the highest of all worldly excellence. If practiced alone even with perception into the kind of existence that persists, can lead to a rebirth into the heavens. Practicing these leads to achieving a greater self-awareness. This then helps the individual a deeper understanding of themselves, become a more well-rounded human, and show tenderness to all beings whom they interact with on a daily basis.

I started by practicing and telling myself “I am related to all that is.” With this, I looked at everyone and everything as a friend. I made sure to pay special attention to the environment. Paying attention to the environment was hard for me because I had never done anything like this before. Once I started to do it, I realized how much I don’t take care of about where I walk, sit down or place my stuff. Mentally I had to remind myself what I was practicing but got better at it as the time went along. I worked on where I would sit and place my items between classes. On October 4th, while sitting on a bench by the turtle pond, I witness some horrific. Someone rolled their longboard on the grass sat down to proceed and ate some food. Emotionally it hurt to watch but physically nothing about me changed. I tried thinking of something to say but just didn’t know how to approach the situation. He then got up left some trash on the ground and started to walk away. He was walking in my direction so I took action to the situation. I kindly said to him “the environment we live in is crucial to our, existence and all of life such as animals and insects, so if you could pick up your trash that would mean the world to me.” He said “oh yeah I’m sorry” in and un-expecting matter. I noticed that I was not anxious or worried to say something to him. Reason being, I knew he was in the wrong and I knew what it was the right thing to do. I also noticed the matter of my words and the way I said it was different than how I normally talk. I behaved in an assertive way simply because I only had one chance to talk to him before he passed me. I learned that I don’t pay attention to our environment too often, but after this practice, I realized how special our environment is. I now know to think twice about where I walk, sit, and place items. My actions can negatively affect all beings around me and anything I can do to help/take care of others, the environment and I will only bring positivity to all of life.

I went a full two days without eating any sentient beings. Places I could not eat at while practicing this includes Rubio’s, Dickey’s, Subway and The Den. Not eating meat, fish, poultry, etc. made me realize a lot about my eating styles and how it affects me. I would have to put more effort into the process of planning out what I would be eating for the day, which lead me to act differently. People around me notice how differently I was carrying myself. I was contently hungry or as my friends would say “hangry” meaning angry from the fact I was hungry. I noticed how I was the only person in my group concerned where and what I was eating. I responded and adapted to the situation by either going somewhere else to get food or making sure the restaurant of choice had something I could eat on the menu. The mental effort I was putting forth while practicing this was great but the physical aspect wore on me and was rough. I noticed how tired and drained I would become from the lack of food. The lack of food I was consuming is because I am incredibly picky and finding something to eat without sentient was challenging. The behaviorally differences I observed about myself were; I tended to be more irritated, frustrated and worn-out. While these behavioral differences for the most part had negative effect on me, I managed to stay true to practicing Metta and Karuna for all whom I interacted with.

        On Thursday, October 5th, I went to grab some lunch at East Commons before my math class at 12:30 PM. After picking up some salad from the Salad Bistro, I proceeded to find somewhere to sit. I saw a guy who looked stressed and discouraged sitting. He was eating by himself so I decided to go up to him and ask If I can sit and eat with him. I felt the need to find out why he looks this way and if there was anything I could do to help. The 20 seconds it took me to walk over and ask I felt my heart start to beat faster and faster. I noticed my physical condition was off, and I was starting to break a sweat. I was so nervous and felt vulnerable; I was thinking to myself what if he says “no” then what do I do? Despite this, I walked over asked and he said “yes!” His name was Sam but he went by Skipp. We happened to be in the same Leadership class (ARP-205) and I found out he was stressed because he did not know how to study for our midterm the next day. I offered to him that he can join my study group that was meeting at 9:00 PM that night. He said yes and it helped calm his nerves, knowing he can study with other people in the class. My thought of inviting him to our study group then taking action to invite him felt great. I felt like amazing knowing we can help him study because I know I’d want someone to do that for me. My mental and physical actions turned from distress to complete relaxation. My behavior was stress-free and it felt as I was talking to a longtime friend. Thinking, speaking and behaving in this way made all felt natural once I got past being nervous. It made me realize that by treating everyone as a friend who I deeply care about helps me understand each individual I interact with for who they are. Instead of look at them for what they have or is there something I can get out of them. Truly caring and putting out love to everyone, incredible helped soften my heart and become more compassionate all around. I can now show more compassion but also lend a helping hand in any way possible to those I interact with every day.

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