Metta meditation seminar: 'Kalyanamitta, spiritual friendship'
Irene or Metta, as call friends who during these last 25 years knew Sister Ajahn Metta, arrives in Madrid, after leaving the monastic life, to impart an urban retreat for meditation-mindfulness. The withdrawal will take place in Yoga Anandamaya from 20 to 22 October. Interview Isabel Ward for YogaenRed, translation: Marta Nuba.
Ajahn Metta was born in 1953 in Germany. He began monastic life in 93 in the Amaravati Buddhist monastery (United Kingdom) and was ordained as a Sīladhāra 96. For more than 10 years he has been teaching meditation workshops and retreats.
What is Kalyanamitta?
Spiritual friendship. The association with the beautiful. The Dhamma, teaching, refers to something that holds. When one holds something in his hands one avoids falling. The 'dhamma' is what sustains and prevents anything from falling. Kalyana It means bringing, which strengthens, stimulating, which causes delight to the heart. It is considered to be what is beautiful: is beautiful at the beginning, in the middle and at the end.
Why is it important for us?
What holds our practice, our principles, our values and intentions? A very important factor that sustains us is to share with others the way: spiritual friends. When we look at our lives we realize how easy that is diverted from the essence of our practice and feel attracted by all sorts of "important things" in our everyday life. Even worse, we may feel attracted to behaviors that do not follow the teachings. Our spiritual friends show us when we feel too attracted by them and make us to know when we are fooling ourselves with all kinds of excuses.
Can you specify how this type of "spiritual" friendship is?
It can occur in different ways. There is friendship with our companions of the way, those who practice as us and who are, shall we say, on the same level. We could call it the horizontal level. With them, we share our experiences and talk about our understanding of the way and the practice. We mutually encourage us to follow in "the right direction".
TOl want to follow "the right direction", want to develop the qualities that help us to maintain a healthy mind. In Buddhism it means to understand the fourth Noble truth, the eightfold path, those aspects that help us grow to liberation (straight Vision, intended to straight, straight Word, straight action, straight sustaining, the effort straight, straight Attention and concentration straight). These healthy States of mind are internal spiritual friends, who can help us when we really need them. But to be able to access them, we need to develop and cultivate them.
How is it in practice?
From my own experience I can tell how much that helped me, especially at the beginning of my Buddhist practice, to have friends who also were seeking company for the path. We meditated together, we read Scripture, we mentioned our experience and shared what we understood. This also extended to many other aspects of our lives in which we could give support from the point of view of Sila (the straight Word, straight action and straight sustaining)
Is the figure of the master?
That is what we would call the vertical level of spiritual friendship. This refers to the friendship that we have developed with our teachers, mentors, or spiritual guides. You have to understand that we call teachers who inspire us, those who have already gone beyond in the way that we and have developed the practice in a way to which we aspire. When they point us the way to do it, it is a valuable gift. They see what we have to develop and how we could do it. When we feel that we need advice because we we are stuck and do not see clearly how to continue, they we will point to where to look and how we can move forward.
Try not to upset you when point it a lack or defect; try to see it as a gift that someone is offering you and helping you to continue in the right direction.
I feel very lucky, as my spiritual friends have been decisive support that I've had to advance and grow in the way. A key issue in this regard is that these friends help you to find your way through difficulties without making you rely on your support.
Therefore, when we speak of spiritual friendship are considering, at least these two levels: the vertical and the horizontal. Not undermine the internal spiritual friends. ESAS qualities of the mind are like spiritual tools that help us to develop strength and coping with the difficulties that we can find.
Does Kalyanamitta relate those experiences that change our values or beliefs that we had until that time... maybe experiences that cause us pain, as a loss...?
Yes, it could well happen. I can say that from my experience when I found my first Buddhist teacher, Ajahn Buddhadasa. Something I was going through. Suddenly, I could see clearly how much I had away from the "objective". It was as if through his teachings he is getting a front mirror and wondering: what are you doing with your life? How long will you keep fooling yourself? It was like waking abruptly from a comfortable sleep, from the comfortable belief that everything was going well. Suddenly I realized that was not being honest with myself, I wanted to believe that the path just a little was enough... He was an outstanding teacher. In his presence, it was not possible to continue living as it had done up to then. There was a good part: he was following the spiritual path, but I had not committed really, fully, to follow him. While in his monastery and listening to his teachings I realized that I had to give a clear twist to my life and change my values. This happened at a time in my life that was suffering because my marriage was wrong.
According to his teachings I realized suddenly what it means "there is suffering". I understand that suffering is part of our life here... and that it teaches us much if we are open. And also my own responsibility in this. If there was a crisis, but also a way out of this. And I felt like a revelation, as something that had been looking for most of my life. Although it was hard, painful and gave me to think... was a blessing. The blessing of Kalyanamitta.
Are another type of master the Scriptures and books?
When one does not have the fortune of having these friends, you can return to the Scriptures, the Suttas and the comments about them. They will help you find your way. They are like friends along the way... But the connection with the Sage in the vertical level is essential to advance because it is very easy to get lost. We can easily fall into deceive ourselves and believe that we are making progress. And rather than be eliminating layers of appearances, we are adding more without realizing. With your understanding and wisdom our friends will help us not to fall into these traps.
I believe that it is essential for our spiritual development and our practice choose friends carefully, since they influence our way pretty: in how develops in the direction we take, we can do our choices... So my support is to encourage you to patronize you of you are connected with those aspects of spiritual friendship and you choose with care...
Meditation "Kalyanamitta practice" seminar
During this retreat, we want to see how we can cultivate spiritual friendship in our lives. How can to help each other along the way, the outside appearance. And how we can use, for example, the spiritual faculties, the five indriyas (faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom) as qualities that can help us to move forward, growing internally. See them also as our spiritual companions.
It teaches: Ajahn Sister Metta
When: from 20 to 22 October
Where: Yoga Anadamaya. c / Alcalá 68. Madrid
Contact: 647 51 22 78 firstname.lastname@example.org t
Workshop price: €50 to help cover expenses
Contribution aware by the teachings: the value from the heart you give to the received teachings and the possibility that you can provide to Metta to continue their work.
More information: http://www.yogaanandamaya.com/retiro-urbano-sister-metta/