- Vertical relationship or hierarchical relationships.
- Horizontal relationships, which is also social or peer relationships.
The vertical relationship represents the personal relationship of the laypeople to the monastic order and the Buddha. But there is no good achieving spiritual high without any form of earthly goodness. The horizontal relationships bring balance to our lives. It is the commitments to live with each other, to become connected with one another within the basic Buddhist community.
In life, the temple should remain large enough to celebrate and communion together while the Metta Circles enables the group to be small enough to care for each other.
A Metta Circle is one that actually:
- Worship and celebrate together,
- Spend time learning from each other,
- Partakes in fellowship with one another,
- Caring through the sharing of one’s possessions,
- Be able to meditate and pray together and for each other,
- To be able to meet with each other on a regular basis, and
- Finally, we must be able to ADD NEW MEMBERS to grow the group.
There are four objectives to achieve when joining a Metta Circle:
- Expression of one’s faith
But why do we have Metta Circles?
We are trying to make Buddhism an irresistible community where a person can:
- Love and be Loved
- Know and be Known
- Serve and be Served
- Celebrate and be Celebrated
Metta Circle is actually a small group or cell group concept. It provides that horizontal relationships. Metta is a wish for all beings to be well and happy, one of the 4 Brahma Vihara propagated by our Lord Buddha. Circle is the bond we establish with our loved ones and friends. For life is about loving one another and circle reflects the care or attention we give to each other.
To ally all fears that this is not going to be any Buddhist cults of sorts, the Metta Circle actually acts as a MAINTENANCE system. It will not do away with the temple and we are seeing strong possibilities of it integrating with the temple. We are trying to reinforce and support the temple. Where today’s generation looks at the practices of our past with much disinterest, we are trying to bridge across the gap that has appeared. The Metta Circle is bringing in a culture that they are interested in and for all, an opportunity to exercise our faith through sharing and expression. With proper nurturing, many with totally different interest scales can slowly be integrated into temple culture without aversive reactions.
Click here to read our Metta Circle stories.
The basic grouping is of 5 to 15 people and when it reaches the size that is dictate either by space limitation or by quantity then it breaks into two separate circles at the core. The circle could be based on locality or in the interest of the members.
Locality means to hold in the member’s house, temple, Buddhist centre or any other suitable venues. And interest implies that it could be in an institution like a temple or in the university. Metta Circle that centers on the member houses tends to have a large age-group mix whilst that which is hosted in a university could be narrow in range. Whichever method is used, the structure for both is still the same. One important rule to remember is to keep the group small, not to make the group too large. There could be many circles instead of one. Large group gets very impersonal.