About Metta Refuge

Life is short and we have not too much time
for gladdening the hearts of those
who are traveling the dark way with us.
Oh, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.
~ Henri-Frederic Amiel

Welcome to Metta Refuge! My name is Steven Goodheart, and I have been deeply involved with spirituality and spiritual healing for over 40 years. I make no special claim for myself; I’m not a teacher or monk.  I’m just a fellow traveller who wants to share with you from his heart and life.

Although I started out as as a Christian, I eventually found a new home and path in the teachings of the Buddha. My “heart teacher” is Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. In 2002, at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, I Took the Three Refuges and the Five Mindfulness Training Oaths with him.

As I have grown in my practice and understanding, I have also been greatly blessed and helped by spiritual teachers of various traditions and schools:  Zen teacher such as Cherie Huber, Joko Beck, Seung Sahn, John Daido Loori, and Ezra Bayda.  I have found tremendous skillfulness in the teachings of Theravadan monks Thanissaro Bhikkhu and Ajahn Chah.  Tibetan teachers such as Pema Chodron and Lama Shenpen Hookham have been a great inspiration to my life and practice.  I have also been helped by the insights of the great Indian sage, Sri Aurobindo, the Russian Christian existentialist, Nikolai Berdyaev, the integral teachings and philosophy of Ken Wilber, the “pathless path” of J. Krishnamurti, and the “Diamond Approach” of A. H. Almaas.

Perhaps most of all, however, I have been blessed by the thousands and thousands of “teachers” I’ve met throughout my life—all the amazing people I’ve met and known—some wise, some foolish, some loving, some hateful, some inspiring, some infuriating.  I have come to feel that every person we meet is a kind of living koan, if only we are mindful enough to recognize what they have to teach us.  What’s more, if we look deeply into others—and into our heart’s deepest response to others—we will recognize  that the “guru” in others is also the “guru” in us.  Namaste!

I am convinced from my own practice that anyone can be helped and even healed by the power of loving-kindness, called metta, or maitri, in Buddhism. And while I hope to share what I’ve learned in the Buddhist practice of metta, clearly, one doesn’t have to be a Buddhist to practice loving-kindness! The power of loving-kindness transcends all belief or non-belief in God, Christ, Buddha, or Brahman and can be found in people of every faith, as well as those of no faith.  What matters is our heart and the deepest, loving intent of our heart.  Happily, the innate goodness and potential to love in every human heart are greater than any  disbelief the human mind may have about the power of love.  A greater ability to love, in other words, is something we can cultivate and nurture through loving-kindness, or metta, practice

Steve Goodheart Essay

So again, welcome! May Metta Refuge Blog be a place of refuge and comfort for you.  May it be a place where you can learn and help develop new skills in meditation and mindfulness and loving-kindness. May it always be a place where heart speaks to heart openly and without fear or judgment. May our encounters, however brief, always be meaningful. And may we always meet and part in loving-kindness and friendship!

Steve Goodheart

♥♥♥

“When understood, the Buddha’s universe..is anything but alien and inhibiting. It is a world full of hope, where everything we need to do can be done and everything that matters is within human reach. It is a world where kindness, unselfishness, non-violence, and compassion achieve what self-interest and arrogance cannot. It is a world where any human can be happy in goodness and the fullness of giving.” — Eknath Easwaran

“The benefits of loving-kindness practice extend far beyond those who meditate. It offers to all the opportunity to kind selflessness, joy, adaptability, and expansiveness. It is a truly universal practice and need not be associated with any particular religious concept.” — Gregory Kramer “Seeding the Heart: Loving-kindness Practice with Children”

“In most of us, the desire for love has often been distorted or buried, but if you look at your own life with honest and gentle eyes, you can discern it in yourself as a deep seeking of connectedness, healing, creation, and joy. This is your true identity, it is who you really are and what you exist for.” — Gerald May “The Awakened Heart”

54 Responses to “About Metta Refuge”

  1. Hi Steve,

    Good to meet you at the Berkeley(Big C) hiking trail today.. You seem like a kind person.

    All the best,

    Abhishek

  2. I would like to download anf listen to the audio of No death No fear.But could not find the right links..pls let me know which ones is the best ?
    Tks.

  3. Thank you for your wonderful blog.my koan is”what is this”

  4. It is difficult the path we choose. Peace seems unattainable. Death ultimately is how one achieve peace.? I watch as the world revolves around me. Meditation is the way. Martial Arts cultivates my being, and gives me strength and hopefully increased consciousness.-
    zilong lau

  5. Hello Steve,

    I left a comment a while back, in appreciation of the post about “Idiot Compassion”. At first it showed that it was waiting for approval from moderator, but now it just doesn’t show at all. I was just wondering if it got lost or what? I would like to contribute to your community.

    Thanks!

  6. http://namasteconsultinginc.com/2012/03/10/sunshine-award-nominees/
    Thank you for a wonderful blog! I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award.
    A flower for you, a buddha to be.
    Jennifer

    • Emerald Theodorou Reply 2012/04/10 at 8:58 PM

      Hi Steve. I came upon your website while looking for the story of the monk who carried the woman physically and then put her down, and
      the other monk who couldn’t let go of her mentally. I fell in love with the photo of the sweet buddha statue with palms together and with that gentle, kind and loving and smiling face. I would love to know where that statue is and how I might access a large photo of it. Thank you – Em

  7. Steve, thank you for your beautiful website. My beloved partner, Mimma, died on 11-11-11, she loved receiving your email posts and drinking deeply of the wisdom and beauty on your website.
    In gratitude,
    Joy

    • Oh, dear Joy, I am so *very* sorry to hear of your loss of your beloved Mimma. It brought tears to my eyes to hear of your loss and then to think that what I try to do on this site had touched your partner’s life. This is huge inspiration to continue the sharing.

      Thank you. It means so much to me that you took the time to share something so personal with me. Please consider yourself “hugged” and held in warm metta.

      Steve

  8. Hello Steve, I am very happy to find your great blog. I expect it to be a wonderful resource and thoughts on Dhamma.

    • Thanks so very much, and welcome! I am so glad you found you way here. I hope you have many helpful visits.

      With warm metta,
      Steve

    • Thank you for your kind words, Nishant. I am glad that Metta Refuge will be dhamma resource for you, and look I look forward to sharing more in the future with you and other dhamma friends.

      With warm metta,
      Steve

  9. Dear Steven,

    I am writing on behalf of the film project, Walking With Alfred Hassler, Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Chan Khong. This film is part of a series entitled “Peace is the Way” that highlights the life and contribution of real life super heroes to the peace movement. Our team (Sangha) is reaching out to those who have a close connection to and respect for the work of Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) and his Buddhist family.It is our hope that you would be interested in supporting and spreading the word about our film.

    We warmly welcome you to check out our project page at IndieGoGo ( http://www.indiegogo.com/peaceisthewayfilmseries1 ) for the trailer and regular updates about the project as well as a letter from Thay and Sister Chan Khong requesting support for this project.

    The stories of these truly unique and inspirational people must be told. We hope that this film can play a role in spreading their voices and calls for peace. We would be truly thankful for any and all support from you and your readers. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you should have any questions or comments.

    With kindness,

    Iulia and the Peace is the Way Film Sangha

    • Hello friends of Thay!

      My apologies for the delay in getting back to you. I finally found time to look into your wonderful project and website, and I am so very impressed by it.

      Yes, I will find ways to promote this wonderful work—right away, on Facebook, to hundreds of friends, and then at Metta Refuge Dharma Nuggets, and perhaps here, too, if I have time for a longer piece. I have a huge amount of activity at “Dharma Nuggets” so this should be a nice boost to your work, and of course, I’ll make sure there are proper links, etc. you the site.

      I’m so glad you have contacted me, and I’ll definitely find ways to support this very important work of dharma work.

      With warm metta and all best wishes for the success of your venture,
      Steve

      • Thank you so much for your kind words and for the wishes.
        Also, miles of smiles and thanks for promoting the film and helping it make history. You can follow the updates on the Facebook page of the documentary, as well as on indiegogo, to see the progress we’re making.
        Our team is eternally grateful to you 🙂
        Warmest regards,
        Iulia

  10. What relation, if any, does your website have with Metta Forest Monastery/PO Box 1409/Valley Center, CA 92082?

    • My personal blog has no formal relationship with the Metta Forest Monastery, other than my great appreciation of the teachings of Thanissaro Bhikkhu

      Many years ago, after leaving the religion I was brought up in, I found my “refuge” in the Buddhist practice of metta, and I adopted the phrase “metta refuge” into my e-mail addresses. A few years ago, when I decided to create this blog, the name “Metta Refuge” was just a natural one, because of its focus on metta and loving-kindness practice.

      A informal “connection” I do have with Metta Forest Monastery is how much I admire and have been helped by the teachings of Thanissaro Bhikkhu . As you probably noticed, I have shared many of Ajahn Geof’s talks at this site—probably even more than my first Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, with whom I took the Five Mindfulness Vows and the Three Refuges on a retreat with him. I am also a co- administrator of a Facebook group a dharma brother and I created called “The Skillful Teachings of Thanissaro Bhikkhu.” We use this Facebook group to post talks and links to the teachings of Ajahn Geof, and we have several hundred members. It is a great joy to share this skillful teaching with others and to introduce them to the Thai Forest tradition and the lineage of Ajahn Lee.

      Thanks for your inquiry. Let me know if you have other questions. And thanks for stopping by!

      With warm metta,

      Steve

  11. Hi, I was hoping to ask you a question about your website. Could you email me back at your earliest convenience? Thanks!

    Emily

    • Emily, my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I’ve been swamped with work, and with taking care of my blogs—and my personal life! 🙂

      I just sent you an e-mail. Thanks for your patience and for stopping by Metta Refuge.

      With warm metta,
      Steve

  12. Diana Heaberlin Reply 2011/05/04 at 5:09 AM

    Steven, what you have done here is beautiful and I thank you! It is so wonderful for you to share! It always amazes me how wonderful gifts like this blog come into my life at very opportune
    times. With all best Wishes….di

    • Diana,

      Thanks for your very dear remarks…I apologize for taking so long to answer such a wonderful comment. I can barely keep up with the traffic at my three blogs, and often get way behind on the comments.

      I’ve had the same experience, too, of wonderful gifts coming to me just when I need them. I think that not only says something about the universe, but also about our own hearts. I think we tend to find what our heart yearn for and need, and the universe responds. I’m glad that Metta Refuge was one of your answers!

      Thank you for stopping by,

      With warm metta,
      Steve

  13. I agree with all the previous comments. Thank you for the wisdom quotes, and your own words. I don’t have the usual safety nets at age 63, but I creating a new type of “retirement plan” for myself—mindfulness and meditation. Better than travel and a fancy house!

    I’ve subscribed to your blog, so I’ll be able to enjoy it. Man, I love that little stone Buddha in your picture!

    • Dear andap14,

      Thanks so much. I just turned 61, and so I have some sense of what you are talking about. While I think all members in our society should be taken care of and have a social safety net, in one sense, there is no totally reliable safety net except that of mindfulness, meditation, and the insight they bring. Years ago I took refuge in Buddha, dharma, and sangha and that refuge has never failed me.

      The Buddha also said that the only thing in this world that we truly own is our karma—the results of our actions, wise or foolish, loving or indifferent. This is both a wonderful thing, and a challenge to see how cause and effect work and how our thoughts and actions create our world.

      Thank you for subscribing and for your very kind words. (As for that little Stone Buddha, so many people have commented on it. It’s a picture of a Jizo bodhisattva in Japan, as I recall. If the person who carved it created statuary for sale, I think he or she could make a small fortune, given how much folks love it.)

      All the best to you, and thanks again for your kind words,

      Steve

  14. I enjoyed the site. I’ve been practicing for 2 years now in TNH’s tradition in Naples, fl. Metta is my main practice. I went to a retreat with TNH in Estes Park, Co. summer before last but he was sick and couldn’t be there…so sad for me! I am a painter part time and love images of the Buddha…is how I found your site.
    Be WEll,
    Lindsey

  15. This is a wonderful, wonderful site! May all your virtuous (and virtual) activities bring joy and happiness to all the beings!

    I feel with a new home.

    Metta,
    Vinícius

  16. Stephen,
    Thank you for bringing these inspiring and loving posts into the world. You truly help me remember about Right Thought, and help me set my compass on a soulful path. Yes…you help me remember, and that is the highest praise I could offer to anyone.

  17. So glad I found your blog Steven! Beautifully written and very inspiring.
    Thank you so much.

  18. I have practiced a form of progressive relaxation/meditation for over 30 years and that it is a profound factor in my general good health at the age of 80 – born 26/11/1930 christchurch New Zealand. But, I am still searching and learning and your site is very interesting.

    • Hello my friend! Wow, thirty years of practice and going strong at 80! I find that so inspiring. I just hit 60, and hope to see your 80, and more, and know what a benefit meditation and removing stress from our bodies and lives can be. To me, one of the happiest things about life, and our individual spiritual pahts, is that we never stop learning—or shouldn’t—if we are always opening up our hearts and minds. Thank for stopping by and for your sharing.

      Steve

  19. Hello Steven, I stumbled in here looking for a particular Thich Nhat Hanh quote… and found something more. I Thank You for the beauty and presence you offer here… and obviously, in life too.

    larry

  20. Thank you for this refuge Steven! I feel right at home.

    Be Well & Be Blessed,
    Susan

  21. Steve, Wonderful. I’ll post something today or tomorrow. Today is a real rest day. Travel safely. You can find the Calm Chicago blog here: http://calmchicago.wordpress.com/
    The goal of the blog is to offer simple, practical approached to practice, regardless of faith and irrespective of any other background details. Aiming only to help reduce suffering without the weight of views. All is offered in the spirit of the teachings – don’t take my word for any of it, you all have to experience it for yourself and see what works. My own journey this year is very much about cultivating patience, and purifying the body, speech and mind. We are all just beginners.

    With Metta to you, your teacher and sangha as well,

    hillary

    ps. look forward to make time for the science blog too as I’m a closet physics geek and look at our understanding of the environment connecting to practice in daily life. Not so much understanding or consideration is out there … or maybe, I mean rather, we would do well to have more. So thanks.

    • Thank you, my friend. Apologies for my delay in answering, but I got swamped by a freelance writing project and was “offline” for more than a week as I worked to make deadlines. And, part two of the project is about the start, which will keep me very busy until the end of the month, so I thought I’d better get a couple of posts in, which I did, and answer some comments.

      I took a (quick) look at the Calm Chicago blog and really liked it. Your goals are wonderful, and I wish you every and the sangha every success in sharing the dharma in a way more folks can grasp it –without the weight of “views.”

      Ah, my science blog — it kind of came to a standstill after all the work I did on the BP oil disaster because of other demands, but I hope to get at least one post “out the door” before I have to knuckle-down on this next writing assignment.

      Thanks for stopping by—so great to meet you on the path.

      Steve

  22. Hello Steve,
    How wonderful your blog is and all it offers. It’s very beneficial.
    I’d like to post a link to it in the Calm Chicago Word Press blog if that’s ok. I’m practicing in Chicago. My teacher is Master Ji Ru of the Mid-America Buddhist Association. Here is the website for the monastery: http://www.maba-usa.org/
    You have clearly a profound practice and a strong desire to share. You have a wonderful teacher. If you are ever in Chicago, do let us know.
    Wishing peace and happiness for all beings, xianhuang hillary johnson

    • Hello my sister in the dharma, and thank you for stopping by! I would be honored to have my link to the Calm Chicago Word Press blog. Thank you for your kind words and appreciation. I was delighted to learn about your teacher and the wonderful work of your sangha, and will definitely enjoy learning more about Mid-American Buddhist Association.

      With warm metta to you, your teacher, and your sangha,

      Steve

  23. Hello Steven,

    How nice to find you here. I was on a google search for “lovingkindness,” specifically images for my own blog and your site popped up. I am glad it did. I am going to put you into my blog roll so I can return — often. Thank you for your good work in the world. Your site is wonderful, inspiring, and oh, so kind. Blessings of love and joy to you.

    Jan Lundy

    http://www.awakeisgood.com/
    http://www.awakened-living.blogspot.com/

    (Jan’s two sites are so wonderful, I’ve edited her comment to contain direct links to it. Steve)

    • Hello Jan!

      Thank you for your very kind words and for the very good work you are so obviously doing at your two sites, as well. It is wonderful to meet kindred hearts along the path to awakening.

      With warm metta,
      Steve

      (PS – I took the liberty of editing your comment so it would include direct links to your two sites. What wonderful resources, especially for women.)

  24. Steve,

    Your website is beautiful with words that sink into my heart, it gives me hope for healing and encouragement to continue my practice.

    Metta

    • Shara, thank you! You comment really touched my heart. From the beginning, my aspiration for this site was do that very thing — to encourage, to give hope, and to help folks see that, yes, they can do it! To hear that I’ve helped someone makes all the work and effort so worthwhile.

      With warm metta,
      Steve

  25. Chris McCarthy Reply 2010/03/30 at 5:52 AM

    Thank you so much. Your words are beautiful and inspiring. I am a twenty-one year old married college student and have been studying buddhism for nearly three years now. I am constantly led here through reddit.com/r/buddhism for wonderfully insightful commentary. Theres always poignant, succinct writing with many topics to choose from. Thank you very much for all of the effort and time you have spent to publish this. I have oftentimes wished to develop such a blog myself, bringing in some new elements of bicameralism (http://www.julianjaynes.org/), but can’t seem to find the time. Soon though. Soon 😀

    • Hey Chris! Thanks so much for your kind words! I put of lot of love and hard work into this blog, so it’s really nice to know that folks are being helped by what I have to offer.
      I remember reading Jaynes some years ago and thinking that his idea of a “bicameral mind” was both intriguing and challenging. The theory certainly offers a lot of explanatory power for some problems in the brain/mind/consciousness and linguistics. I haven’t really followed any possible evolution of his ideas since the ’70s, but I know he had a lot of influence on Daniel Dennett and Steven Pinker, two people I have followed more closely.
      Thanks for the link to the Jaynes site, and as for your own blog, I wish you well in that direction — being married and in college is probably keeping you pretty busy I suspect, but no doubt such a blog will be a natural outgrowth of your life. I wish you all the best in school, and with your marriage, and your life.
      With warm regards and metta,
      Steve

  26. This is a wonderful, beautiful site that I am sure is helping make a difference in this world full of needless suffereing. May it continue. Aloha, Tom

  27. Thanks for your inquisitive and respectful post the other day. I hope i answered decently.

    • Hey Eli, you did. I apologize for not acknowledging that over at your site, especially given the length of my original post! Once the weekend starts, I’m pretty much devoted to time with my wife, which was bad timing. Anyway, I really appreciated the thought you gave the post, and I do indeed have a response that I hope is as good as yours. With best wishes, Steve

  28. awesome! that’s how i feel most of the time…sounds like i’m right on track…woot!

    you have a great site here. I stumbled on it and it was a great find. I can’t wait to dig in.

  29. awesome blog, Steve. you are what i want to be when i grow up!

    • LOL! Thanks….Listen, in this dharma business, we are all babes, but I appreciate the compliment.

      I think Isaac Newton got it about right:

      “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

  30. You have a wonderful and important site, Steve. I shall take more time in the coming days to absorb and reflect on your gentle writings. Thank you. Malcolm

  31. Hi Steve,

    I should have guessed by the humanity in your comment over at “We the Bistro” that your home site would be so soulful.

    Thanks so much for what you wrote. It’s what people need to read. Really, it does come down to simple courtesy.

    I’m enjoying your site!

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Best,

    Chris R.

    • Wow, thanks for stopping by, Chris! Appreciate your kind comments and glad you are enjoying the site. Stop by any time.

      And a happy thanksgiving to you and yours too!

      Steve

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