The heart is made up of four chambers and the kanji for “heart” is a schematic for it. What I love about the script is the openness, the way it rolls off the brush to sit on the paper, an upright bowl ready to hold anything. In our mindfulness courses, I describe a 3-stage breathing meditation that begins with allowing everything in the sense perceptions to fall into awareness, into a bowl. Let it all drop into the well of awareness without judgment of or preferences for it. A spacious containing of all that is present in that in- and out-breath.
When we let the entirety of our experience sit in the bowl of awareness, we begin to develop an understanding of what these perceptions, experiences are. Usually though, we tend to push it away at first twinge or consume it ravenously at first delight with barely a sense of what it was. Letting all the elements of our experience show themselves, their true nature, is an invitation to intimacy.
This is love.
Simple, bare awareness that is already open, accepting, and encompassing.
Love is the first of the Four Divine Abodes or the Four Immeasurable Minds. It is known as maitri or metta. It is not sentimental or cloying. It is an honest, courageous willingness to be open (vulnerable) to the whole tidal cycle of our life – moment by moment.
Favourite books on metta:
Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg
Eight Mindfulness Steps to Happiness by Bhante Gunaratana
Happiness by Mathieu Ricard