Metta’s focus-good intentions not positive thinking

“Metta practice is the cultivation of our capacity for loving-kindness. It does not involve either positive thinking or the imposition of an artificial positive attitude. There is no need to feel loving or kind during metta practice. Rather, we meditate on our good intentions, however weak or strong they may be, and water the seeds of these intentions.”

“When we water wholesome intentions instead of expressing unwholesome ones, we develop those wholesome tendencies within us. If these seeds are never watered, they won’t grow. When watered by regular practice, they grow, sometimes in unexpected fashions. We may find that loving-kindness becomes the operating motivation in a situation that previously triggered anger or fear.”

Key point from Vipassana teacher Gil Fronsdal in:

“May We All Be Happy…”


About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

4 Responses to “Metta’s focus-good intentions not positive thinking”

  1. Hey again, Steve,

    A funny thing happened on the way to the end of this post. I didn’t want to take up too much of your comment space with it, so I added it as a post to my blog…if you’re interested.

    Back to your other posts!


  2. I might put it another way. (I grew up in a very rough neighbourhood.)

    The Power of Positive Thinking never got anybody out of a fist-fight. But good intentions . . . maybe. It depends on how fast you can talk.

    • It’s true! I doubt if the concepts of The Power of Positive Thinking has ever been of much avail when a fist-right is eminent! (Do you think Norman Vincent Peale ever got into one?) 🙂

      The big idea with intentions is the watering and cultivation of them. It almost impossible to have the fruits of love and mindfulness instantly appear if we haven’t been cultivating those qualities. So, with intentions, it’s both immediate—what am I thinking and intending now—and a long haul, developing the qualities that lead to lasting happiness.

      But you know, now that I think about it, even in my youth, when I was in physical confrontations, my intention not to do real harm, not to injure, did in fact make a difference in the outcome. So, “instant intention” is possible. It’s just so much stronger if we’ve developed our intentions for good.

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