Seeing the good in another — metta's proximate cause
cause of a brahma-vihara is its nearest arising
condition, the likeliest springboard for something
else to arise. A proximate cause for metta is
seeing the goodness in someone.
When the proximate
cause of metta is present, lovingkindness arises.
If we focus on, fixate
on, obsess about the problem with
somebody — problems we perceive in their
behavior or problems we have with them — then
naturally we’re going to want to recoil.
We'll feel a sense of distance from them,
along with, perhaps, anger or fear.
But if we can
one good thing about them, even if it’s
a little quality, in a sea of difficulty, the
is that we actually pay some attention to that
Do you focus on
the faults of others —the
harms done, or imagined, by others?
Reflect on how this affects you.
Now, having reflected on the
disadvantages of fixating on
the faults of others, consider
the idea of "If I can find
just one good thing about them..." Do
you still find yourself resisting
don't look at the good in order to
enter some fog of delusion, to be walking
saying ‘everything’s fine, aren’t
they wonderful’, even if they’re
not at all.
a kind of bridge that’s built when
we look at the good. We don’t feel
completely defensive; we don’t feel completely
alienated. We can, in a sense, from the vantage
feeling a connection, look directly and honestly
at the difficulty. It’s not that we pretend
it’s not there, but we’re not looking
at it from this huge gulf as though we were not
connected to this person at all. So it’s
said that we look for the good.
Looking for the good also applies to how we
Consider this example
and see if you can find a similar
experience for yourself:
All beings want happiness — another
The are times when we just can’t
see the good in others. Perhaps it does not feel
real. We know it's just not going to happen – whether
we’re talking about ourselves or we’re
talking about somebody else.
Can you relate
to this feeling?
Rather then trying to force yourself to feel
something you can't, you can reflect
that all beings everywhere want to be happy.
Everyone just wants to be happy. The problem
really is our ignorance. Often we don’t
have a clue where happiness is to be found,
so we continually do the things that create
so much pain and suffering for ourselves
and for others.