An interesting day, yesterday, at the workshop to which we were invited by our friend from the Laguna Beach sangha, Dr. Barbara Wright, who has devised an ingenious game board based on the metta practice. Most readers will already know that metta is the practice of loving kindness and compassion. As commonly used as a part of meditation, it asks us first to direct compassion to ourselves, with the understanding that unless we can first be at peace with ourselves, we'll lack the goodwill to extend to others; then on to family and close friends, to those we know and like, to those we know those less well, to those we don't know at all, and even those we dislike; and then on to all people--and not only all people, but all living beings.
It's a wonderful practice, and one that I incorporate every day in my meditation. What Barbara has done is to extend the principles of metta and apply them to a large, human-scale game board, on which participants can actually act out the challenges they are facing in their lives and understand how to deal with them more skillfully. At the center of it all is compassion, the place of the heart, and the idea--as I understand it--is to reach that place by coming to a full awareness of the obstacles the mind sets up to distract us from it. As Barbara demonstrated though a series of examples, it can help both in personal and interpersonal relationships, and equally well in the business and corporate world. True compassion can make us not only happier in our lives, but also more skillful and successful in dealing with the world out there.
Yesterday's workshop was offered as just a foretaste of how the "game" might work. Had there been more time, I would like to have been out there on the board myself, to "get it" in a more experiential way--because I'm sure that this is how it is intended. The goal, as with meditation, would be to get to the bottom of my own intentions and understand my actions well enough to be sure that, whatever I do, my action rises out of awareness and from my own skillful choice--and in this way becomes the full expression of my human freedom and of my compassion for my fellow beings.
I think that we'll all be hearing more of Barbara's "Wright Formula Institute" and its "Compassionate Conflict Resolution Workshop." I hope so. I can think of at least one world leader who might profit from a session or two on the game board--and whose brush with enlightenment in this manner might open a threshold to a better world! As yet, I can't link you to any further information, since the Institute is still in its infancy. But I'm sure that a website will be available in good time, and will let you know about it when I hear more.