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Maitri Bhavana

The Sanskrit word ′Maitri′ means ′friendliness′, or ′loving-kindness′, while ′Bhavana′ means ′virtue′ or ′quality′. So ′Maitri Bhavana′ is the practice of expanding loving-kindness without limits, or ′unlimited friendliness′.

Before coming to you I used to do a Buddhist meditation called Maitri Bhavana. It starts by saying to oneself: May I be well, may I be happy, may I be free from enmity, may I be free from ill-will against myself. After being penetrated by the feeling these thoughts generate, the next phase of the meditation consists in extending it to others: to start with, visualising people you love and giving out this good feeling to them; then doing the same with people you love less, until you might even feel compassion for people you hate.
I used to feel this meditation was pretty good. It somehow opened me to others. And I still feel there is something really deep and basic to it. But I dropped it when I came to you because I saw in it the danger of it being some kind of self-hypnosis. I still feel for this meditation but I am confused as to whether I should take it up again, maybe with a different attitude, or just drop it. Can you please speak about this meditation? I would be grateful.

Maitri Bhavana is one of the most penetrating meditations. You need not be afraid of getting into some sort of self-hypnosis; it is not. In fact, it is a sort of de-hypnosis. It looks like hypnosis because it is the reverse process: you have come to me from your home, you walked the way; now going back you will walk the same way. The only difference will be that now your back will be towards me. The way will be the same, you will be the same, but your face was towards me while you were coming towards me; now your back will be towards me.
Man is already hypnotized. It is not a question now of being hypnotized or not hypnotized. You are already hypnotized. The whole process of society is a sort of hypnosis. Somebody is told that he is a Christian, and it is so continuously repeated that his mind is conditioned and he thinks himself a Christian. Somebody is Hindu, somebody is a Mohammedan - these are all hypnoses. You are already hypnotized. If you think you are miserable, this is a hypnosis. If you think you have too many problems, this is a hypnosis. Whatsoever you are is a sort of hypnosis. The society has given you those ideas, and now you are too full of those ideas and conditionings.
Maitri Bhavana is a de-hypnosis: it is an effort to bring back your natural mind; it is an effort to give you back your original face; it is an effort to bring you to the point where you were when you were born and the society had not yet corrupted you. When a child is born he is in Maitri Bhavana. Maitri Bhavana means a great feeling of friendship, love, compassion. When a child is born, he knows no hatred, he knows only love. Love is intrinsic; hatred he will learn later on. Love is intrinsic; anger he will learn later on. Jealousy, possessiveness, envy, he will learn later on. These will be the things the society will teach: how to be jealous, how to be full of hatred, how to be full of anger or violence. These things will be taught by the society.
When the child is born he is simple love. He has to be so because he has not known anything else. In the mother′s womb he has not come across any enemy. He has lived in deep love for nine months, surrounded by love, nourished by love. He knows nobody who is inimical to him. He knows only the mother, he knows the mother′s love. When he is born his whole experience is of love, so how can you expect him to know anything about hatred? This love he brings with himself; this is the original face. Then there will be trouble, then there will be many other experiences. He will start distrusting people. A newborn child is simply born with trust.

I have heard...

A man and a little boy entered a barber shop together. After the man received the full treatment - shave, shampoo, manicure, haircut, etcetera, he placed the boy in the chair.
"I′m going to buy a green tie to wear for the parade. I will be back in a few minutes."
When the boy′s haircut was completed and the man still had not returned, the barber said, "Looks like your daddy has forgotten all about you."
"That was not my daddy," said the boy. "He just walked up, took me by the hand and said, ′Come on, son, we are gonna get a free haircut!′ "

Children are trusting, but by and by there will be experiences in which they will be deceived, in which they will get into trouble, in which they will be opposed, in which they will become afraid. By and by they will learn all the tricks of the world. That′s what has happened to everybody, more or less.
Now, Maitri Bhavana is again creating the same situation: it is a de-hypnosis. It is an effort to drop hatred, anger, jealousy, envy, and come back to the world as you had come in the first place. If you go on doing this meditation, first you start loving yourself - because you are closest to you than anybody else. Then you spread your love: your friendship, your compassion, your feeling, your well-wishing, your benediction, your blessings, you spread these to people you love - friends, lovers. Then, by and by, you spread these to more people that you don′t love so much, then people to whom you are indifferent - you neither love nor hate - then by and by to people you hate. Slowly you are de-hypnotizing yourself. Slowly you are again creating a womb of love around yourself.
When a Buddha sits, he sits in existence as if the whole existence has again become his mother′s womb. There is no enmity. He has attained to his original nature, Swabhawa. He has come to know the essential man. Now you can even kill him but you cannot destroy his compassion. Even dying, he will remain full of compassion towards you. You can kill him but you cannot destroy his trust. Now he knows that trust is something so basic that once you lose trust you lose all. And if you don′t lose trust and everything is lost, nothing is lost. You can take everything from him but you cannot take his trust.
Maitri Bhavana is beautiful; you can do it. There is no need to drop it. It will be tremendously helpful. It is a de-structuring.
The ego is made with hate, enmity, struggle. If you want to drop the ego, you will have to create more love feelings. When you love, ego disappears. If you love tremendously and you love unconditionally and you love all, then the ego cannot exist. The ego is the most stupid thing that can happen to a man or to a woman. Once it has happened it is very difficult even to see it because it clouds your eyes.

I have heard...

Mulla Nasrudin and his two friends were talking about their resemblances.
The first friend said, "My face resembles that of Winston Churchill. I have often been mistaken for him."
The second said, "In my case, people think I am President Nixon and ask me for my autograph."
Mulla said, "That′s nothing. Well, in my case, I have been mistaken for God Himself."
The first and second asked together, "How?"
Mulla Nasrudin said, "Well, when I was convicted and sent to jail for the fourth time, on seeing me the jailer exclaimed, ′Oh God, you have come again!′ "

Once the ego has happened it goes on collecting from everywhere - sense, nonsense - but it goes on feeling itself important. In love you say, "You are also important, not only I." When you love somebody, what are you saying? You may be speaking or not, but what is really deep in your heart? You are saying, whether in words or in silence, "You are also important, as much as I am." If love grows deeper, you will say, "You are even more important than me. If there arises a situation where only one can survive, I would like to die for you, and I would like you to survive." The other has become more important. That is the meaning of ′beloved′: you are even ready to sacrifice yourself for the one you love. And if this goes on spreading, as it goes on spreading in Maitri Bhavana, then by and by you start disappearing. Many moments will come when you will not be there - absolutely silent, not any ego at all, no center, just pure space. Buddha says, "When this is attained permanently, and you have become integrated to this pure space, then you are enlightened."
When the ego is lost completely you are enlightened; when you have become so egoless that you cannot even say ′I am′, you cannot even say that ′I am a self′. The word Buddha uses for that state is Anatta: no-being, non-being, no-self. You cannot even utter the word ′I′; the very word becomes profane. In deep love ′I′ disappears. You are destructured.
When the child is born he comes without any ′I′; he simply is - a blank sheet, nothing is written on him. Now the society will start writing, and the society will start narrowing down his consciousness. The society will, by and by, fix a role for him: "This is your role; this is you"; and he will stick to that role. That role will never allow him to be happy because happiness is possible only when you are infinite. When you are narrow, you cannot be happy. Happiness is not a function of narrowness; happiness is a function of infinite space. When you are so spacious that the whole can enter into you, then only can you be happy.
Maitri Bhavana can be a tremendous help.

(Osho - The Beloved, vol. 1 #8)

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