Nancy Bonardi gives her compassionate Dharma talk at the Chan Meditation Center
On September 6, 2008, over 60 people attended a talk given by Nancy Bonardi about metta or lovingkindness practice during Sunday's Open House at the Chan Meditation Center.
Practicing with Master Sheng Yen for over 20 years, Nancy Bonardi is one of his earliest western disciples. She is currently a member of the Chan Meditation Center Dharma Teacher Training Program and is experienced with the method of practicing Chan together with lovingkindness practice.
She referred to Master Sheng Yen's book, Subtle Wisdom, and two books that have detailed descriptions on how to practice lovingkindness meditation, Path of Purification translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Sharon Salzberg's Lovingkindness: the Revolutionary Art of Happiness.
During her talk, Nancy used Salzberg's description of qualities of lovingkindness known as "The Four Immeasurables"--kindness, equanimity, friendliness, and compassion. Through continuous observation and reflection of one's own behavior and mental activities, one starts to understand oneself, and hence, adjust one's mind and body to that of peace.
It is noted that most of us usually divide the people that we meet into three groups: 1) those who have benefited us, 2) those who have neither benefited nor hurt us, and 3) those who have hurt us. To those who have helped us, we are usually willing to help; to those who neither benefited nor hurt us, we do not care about much; to those who have hurt us, it is very difficult for us to treat well.
Lovingkindness practice also entails that we have an equanimous attitude towards our own thoughts—
· Do we have an equanimous view of people and things in our lives?
· Do we have an equanimous view of our life processes – aging, illness, and death?
· Do we have an equanimous view of desires, conflicts and attachments in our minds?
The practice of lovingkindness helps us to understand ourselves and improve our interactions with others. The objects of the practice are everyone and everything in our lives.
She quoted the eleven benefits of practicing the method:
1) sleep in comfort, 2) wake in comfort, 3) dream no evil dreams, 4) is dear to human being, 5) is dear to non-human beings, 6) deities guard them, 7) fire, poison and weapons do not affect them, 8) have concentrated mind, 9) have a serene face, 10) dies unconfused, 11) born in the Brahmin world (Brahmin is an Indian term which means high-born)
As Nancy led the group in lovingkindness practice, the participants seemed calm and relaxed. The talk was concluded with a question and answer session.