Goodwill-not a pink cloud of cotton candy covering the world

“As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings. So with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings; radiating kindness over the entire world.” The Buddha, Sutta Nipata I, 8

The Challenge of Making Goodwill Limitless

“Try to make your goodwill limitless — or as the Buddha say, immeasurable. Take this as a challenge. When you spread thoughts of goodwill, test to see where the limits are. Don’t just pretend that your goodwill is immeasurable. Everyone’s goodwill starts out with limits. What are the limits of yours? After spreading goodwill to people you already feel it for — your friends, your family — start spreading it to people for whom you don’t spontaneously feel it.

Does your heart object when you try spreading goodwill to people you dislike? Stop and ask it: Why? What would you gain from seeing them suffer? Look at the little voice inside that resents their happiness. Is that a voice you want to identify with? Can you drop that attitude? This is where the practice of developing goodwill really makes a difference in the mind: When it forces you to challenge any smallness or narrowness in your heart.

If you think of goodwill as a billowing pink cloud of cotton candy covering the world in all directions, what you’re really doing is covering up your actual attitudes, which is of no help at all in gaining insight into the mind.

Goodwill is meant as a challenge, as a way of searching out and working through your small-hearted attitudes one by one so that you can examine them, uproot them, and really let them go. Only when you work through the particulars like this can goodwill become more and more limitless.”

from “The Sublime Attitudes” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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 “Goodwill-not a pink cloud of cotton candy covering the world”

  1. Hi, I am a fan of Thanissaro Bhikkhu and transcribed that talk.

    Here is another one:
    “So when we’re doing this practice, we’re not spreading out nice pink clouds of thought to smother the world. We have to dig up places where you resist the idea of wanting someone to be happy. You can pose the question, ‘Why would I resist that idea? What would I gain from their suffering? What good would be served by their suffering?’When you can dig out your resentments and realize that they’re not really worth carrying around, you can extend the gift of forgiveness to that person.”

    Click to access 061021%20May%20I%20Be%20Happy.pdf

    See one of my websites for dozens of teachings on metta by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

    With metta / Antony.

  2. Goodwill as cotton candy. There should be enough to go around for everybody no matter what their taste or disposition.

    michael j

    • Hey michael j. There certainly is enough love and compassion for everyone; we are just learning how to open our hearts to find what’s already there. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.


  1. A Guided Loving-kindness Meditation with Julian Marc Walker « Metta Refuge - 2010/11/18

    […] Goodwill-not a pink cloud of cotton candy covering the world […]

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