Meditation practice opens us up to the world, and allows us to realize fully what we are feeling as we encounter both suffering and joy. In the context of the Buddhist tradition they talk about the “Middle Way,” a path that avoids extremes and remains centered in the reality of the present moment.

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Lovingkindness is a quality of friendship. Lovingkindness meditation is the cultivation of  a steady, unconditional sense of connection that touches all beings without exception, including ourselves. The quality of lovingkindness is associated with three other qualities: Compassion, Sympathetic Joy & Equanimity.

small_icon Compassion is our caring human response to suffering.  A compassionate heart is non-judgmental and recognizes all suffering—our own and that of others—as deserving of tenderness.
small_icon Sympathetic Joy is the realization that others’ happiness is inseparable from our own. We rejoice in the joy of others and are not threatened by another’s success.
small_icon Equanimity is the spacious stillness of mind that provides the ground for the boundless nature of the other three qualities. This radiant calm enables us to ride the waves of our experience without getting lost in our reactions.

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Mindfulness meditation quiets the mind and refines our awareness so we can directly experience the truth of our lives with a minimum of distraction and obscuration. Simplicity, stillness and attention are its qualities.

small_icon The first pillar of meditation is concentration—stability of mind. We focus our normally scattered energy. The state we cultivate is tranquil, relaxed, open. We let things be; we don’t try to hold on to experiences.  Our mind is alert and deeply connected with what’s going on.
small_icon The second pillar is mindfulness itself. We are aware of what is happening as it actually arises—not being lost in our conclusions or judgments about it.  We pay attention to our pleasant experiences, our painful experiences and our neutral experiences—the sum total of what life brings us.

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This is the path the Buddha taught to those seeking liberation.

1. Right understanding
2. Right thought
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration



An ethical life is founded on these standards of conduct.

1. To refrain from killing
2. To refrain from stealing
3. To refrain from sexual misconduct
4. To refrain from false, harsh and idle speech
5. To refrain from intoxicants that cloud the mind



The mind is always under the influence of one of these states.

1. Generosity
2. Love
3. Wisdom
4. Greed
5. Hatred
6. Delusion



This was the Buddha’s first and fundamental teaching about the nature of our experience and spiritual potential.

1. The existence of suffering
2. The origin of suffering
3. The cessation of suffering
4. The path to the cessation of suffering



Sense Doors

Everything we experience comes through these portals.

1. Eye (Seeing)
2. Ear (Hearing)
3. Nose (Smelling)
4. Tongue (Tasting)
5. Body (Touching)
6. Mind


Feeling Tones

Each moment of experience is felt as one of three feeling tones.

1. Pleasant
2. Unpleasant
3. Neutral



These are the classical hindrances to meditation practice.

1. Desire, clinging, craving
2. Aversion, anger, hatred
3. Sleepiness, sloth
4. Restlessness
5. Doubt



The Buddha taught that we can understand different kinds of suffering through these three categories.

1. The suffering of pain
2. The suffering of change
3. The suffering of conditionality



These four “best abodes” reflect the mind state of enlightenment.

1. Lovingkindness
2. Compassion
3. Sympathetic joy
4. Equanimity



According to the Buddha, we will experience these vicissitudes throughout our lives, no matter what our intentions or actions.

1. Pleasure and pain
2. Gain and loss
3. Praise and blame
4. Fame and disrepute

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The Buddha’s Words on Lovingkindness


This is what should be done


By those who are skilled in goodness,


And who know the path of peace:


Let them be able and upright,


Straightforward and gentle in speech,


Humble and not conceited,


Contented and easily satisfied,


Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways,


Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,


Not proud and demanding in nature.


Let them not do the slightest thing


That the wise would later reprove.


Wishing: in gladness and in safety,


May all beings be at ease.


Whatever living beings there may be;


Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,


The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,


The seen and the unseen,


Those living near and far away,


Those born and to-be-born—


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,


Spreading upward to the skies,


And downward to the depths;


Outward and unbounded,


Freed from hatred and ill-will.


Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down,


Free from drowsiness,


One should sustain this recollection.


This is said to be the sublime abiding.


By not holding to fixed views,


The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,


Being freed from all sense desires,


Is not born again into this world.


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The ethos at IMS is to teach intensive retreats on the basis of dana, an ancient Pali word meaning generosity, giving or gift. At the time of the Buddha, teachings were considered priceless and thus offered freely. Dharma teachers received no payment. The lay community provided food, clothing shelter and medicine. The Buddha taught that generosity is the first of ten qualities of character to be perfected because it opens the heart, reduces self-absorption and serves others.Participants donate whatever is in their means.

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(Commentary Follows)


Abandon what is unwholesome, oh monks!


One can abandon the unwholesome, oh monks!


If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do so.


If this abandoning of the unwholesome would bring harm and suffering,


I would not ask you to abandon it.


But as the abandoning of the unwholesome brings benefit and happiness,


Therefore, I say, ‘Abandon what is unwholesome!’


Cultivate what is wholesome, oh monks.


One can cultivate the wholesome.


If it were not feasible, I would not ask you to do it.


If this cultivation of the wholesome would bring harm and suffering,


I would not ask you to cultivate it.


But as the cultivation of the wholesome brings benefit and happiness,


Therefore, I say, ‘Cultivate what is wholesome!’




Sharon’s Commentary:


This is one of my favorite passages for many reasons. It beautifully exemplifies the extraordinary compassion of the Buddha. The mind of the Buddha sees only suffering and the end of suffering, and exhorts those heading toward suffering to take care, to pay attention, rather than condemning them. He sees those heading towards the end of suffering and rejoices for them.


It also inspires a feeling of self-confidence within one — it can be done… I can do it. Many times if I find difficulty in the teaching, when I am very honest about it, it is because I fear I am not capable of actualizing it. When I feel confidence in myself, my love for the teachings grows exponentially.


When I first went to Sayadaw U Pandita for metta instructions he asked me if I thought I was going to be successful at it and I thought, “He’s looking for conceit.” I replied, “Well, I don’t know whether I’ll be successful or not.” He then shook his head dolefully, and said: “You must always approach things with the attitude that you can be successful. This is what the Buddha taught.”