After the fifth stage
Developing metta on the cushion is great. Having that metta affect your relationships in a positive way is even better. Deciding to take your metta out into the world in a conscious way in order to help living beings is so good it’s beyond words.
You might start at home. How does the way you live affect other beings?
Climate change caused largely by our emissions of CO2 will cause huge disruption in the world, especially to third world communities. Are there ways that you can cut down on your energy consumption in the home — for example by making sure you boil only as much water as you need, unplugging electronic equipment that’s not in use, making sure that new appliances are energy-efficient, etc? The UK’s Guardian newspaper has an excellent section on ethical living that can give you ideas on how to cut down on energy use. In particular you might want to check out the Low Carbon Diet — a step-by-step guide to lowering your CO2 emissions.
And then there’s the possibility of taking action in the world.
There are so many ways that you could make a difference that it’s impossible to list a significant fraction of them, but a few organizations that can always use support are:
- Amnesty International, a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights.
- Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, delivering emergency and long-term medical care in regions devastated by natural or man-made disaster.
- Greenpeace, a nonprofit focusing on the most crucial worldwide threats to our planet’s biodiversity and environment.
- International Center for Research on Women, working to improve the lives of poor women and to advance equality around the world
- International Rescue Committee, provides humanitarian relief (from water to schooling), resettlement help, and advocacy for refugees and internally displaced people.
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, facilitating communication among law enforcement agencies to find missing children.
- Oxfam, a development, advocacy and relief agency working to put an end to poverty world-wide.
Closer to home, there are always opportunities to give something back to your community and to help people in less fortunate situations. Check on the internet for local volunteering opportunities.