I have just been practising a loving kindness meditation this morning. There are several versions of it, but they all go roughly the same way, in that you begin by offering loving kindness to yourself, then to a loved one, then to someone who you are neutral about (i.e. you know as an acquaintance but not well), then to someone you are having difficulties with and finally to everyone, everything, everywhere in the universe.
As I practised this last step I recognised a thought that said, 'who am I to be able to offer loving kindness and peace to the world?' and the very clear response was, 'because you are part of the universe'. That is all. You don't have to be a guru or someone who has spent years devoted to meditation to be able to offer loving kindness to the world, it is a natural consequence of being a part of that world, a sign of being interconnected. This has always puzzled me. Although on a theoretical level I understand and appreciate interbeing it always seemed somewhat beyond reach, again as if you have to have been practising for many years to really understand what interbeing is, that each and every particle in the universe, whether it forms a flower, or an animal or a human, is the same. But this is trying to understand it at the level of theory, not knowledge through practice. And this morning, there it was, the recognition that I am a part of the universe, and as such I can offer loving kindness to that universe, and it will have an effect. Wow! What a beautiful realisation to have first thing in the morning :)
As I say, there are several different versions of loving kindness. The one I have been using is from an ancient Sanskrit prayer and it goes like this.
May all be happy,
may all be free from disease,
may all creatures have well-being
and none be in misery of any sort.
May peace and peace and peace be everywhere.
And I see that peace, not as a general fluffy kind of 'hey, let's have peace in the world', ignoring that there is a lot of suffering going on. I see it as the peace in an individual's heart, also called contentment or acceptance, of whatever situation we find ourselves in. The peace that is non-judgemental and kind and compassionate, especially to ourselves. May peace and peace and peace be everywhere, especially in your own heart.