Is there anyone I shouldn’t pick?

They say you should choose your enemies carefully, and that’s true in the fourth stage of the lovingkindness meditation.

Ultimately, we want to develop lovingkindness for all sentient beings. But there are a few categories of people you should avoid putting in the fourth stage altogether, and some that you should probably avoid putting in this stage when you’re first learning the meditation practice.

Avoid altogether

Don’t use people you don’t know personally. It can be tempting to use “bogeymen” (or “bogeywomen,” I suppose) like Hitler, or Osama Bin Laden, or some political figure we dislike (depending on our personal inclinations). It’s much more useful to stick to people that you actually have contact with.

You can put “bogeymen” in the last stage of the practice when we wish all sentient beings well.

Leave until later

If there is someone who you can’t bring to mind without getting very upset (sad, or angry), perhaps because they’ve done us a great deal of harm, then it’s probably a good idea to put them to one side for a while.

Doing the Metta Bhavana practice will help you to develop the confidence to deal with your responses to this person eventually. Let’s keep the meditation practice relatively straightforward for now, though, and come back to this person later.

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi,
    I have difficulty in finding a person for the fourth stage of loving kindness meditation. I don’t have anyone with whom I have difficulty with, on a continued basis except an uncle whom I don’t even want to think about. However, I do get upset or frustrated with someone on some days. So, I guess I could include them on those days when I’m upset with them. I don’t know how I could find someone for the fourth stage on a day to day basis. I would appreciate it if you could give me some suggestions.

    • You’re doing the right thing by choosing to focus on people you happen to be frustrated with. These can even be friends or other people we care for…

      I often find that I think of people I had problems with in the past. Even though there may be no current feelings of ill will, the memories of those people are connected in the mind with experiences of pain and ill will. You may be going back years, but that’s not a problem.


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