Report on the Metta Convention 2014 from KL Lim
Metta-tastic? Metta-struck? Metta-inspiring?
English language purists will frown but pardon me for taking liberties in coining these words. Try as I might, I just could not find the one word to best describe the feeling I had as I walked out to the foyer of the prestigious Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, Sri Lanka, that evening of 27 June 2014 right after the inauguration of Metta Convention 2014.
What panned out at the Inauguration Ceremony just blew me away! The cleverly choreographed, one-minute “preview” presentations by the impressive panel of speakers gave a sneak peak into what they would delve into during the two-day convention and spelt out in capital letters that this was going to be a Metta Convention that would be DEFINING!!!
Yes, I was awe-struck. It was awe-inspiring. And simply fantastic! I couldn’t agree more with emcee Nishadi Malagoda that it was a panel that brought out goosebumps!
As if I had just watched a high-octane movie trailer, I was estatic, counting my blessings that I had made the right choice to be at this year’s Metta Convention. I would have regretted it deeply if I had missed thisone most poignant groundbreaking metta event in the world!
I found it hard to contain my excitement when I spotted Karen Hee (Organising Chairman of the maiden Metta Convention 2013 in Singapore) in the sea of people that filled the BMICH foyer for the post-inauguration refreshments. “Look at what you have started!” was all I could say and needed to say. There were no words said or needed to be said after that. Tears welled in our eyes. Tears of joy at how the Metta Convention, initiated by Bhante Mahinda for a meeting of hearts on metta, had evolved.
The Metta Convention, which started as yet another integral element for greater metta awareness and outreach under the umbrella of Metta Round The World, has gone BIG and truly international. From the Singapore Convention, which successfully paved the way for a meeting of hearts and ignited the fervour to embrace and inculcate metta practice as well as foster metta-in-action, this Sri Lanka Metta Convention just took off, giving it international patronage and prestige.
Metta Convention 2014 earned this distinction from prominent personalities who, prior to this, were not associated with Bhante Mahinda nor his Metta Round the World initiative that was started to rally peace-loving people in the practice of unconditional loving kindness for world peace, harmony and stability.
These renowned personalities, drawn by Metta Convention 2014 Organising Chairman Dr (Mrs.) Charika Marasinghe, shared the same stage to speak of metta with deep conviction from their personal experiences.
One after the other, they weaved a tapestry of metta, giving a fresh perspective like the floral tribute of the word METTA that was the centerpiece of the stage that evening.
New Thought Minister Rev Dr Michael Beckwith, who teaches universal truth principles found in the New Thought-Ancient Wisdom tradition of spirituality, started it off by advocating “catching the idea from the ideas sphere that this is the time when metta is needed”, followed by a call to “activate metta not to save the world but to serve the emerging paradigm of unconditional love”.
“This is not a bystander sport. We need to participate. We can’t stop at believing. Believing is just a baby step. Our believing must lead to practice until it breaches a level of action,” added Beckwith in his distinct evangelical delivery.
Fellow American, Dr James Doty, Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and the Founder and Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, then followed by emphasising that science has shown that the default mode of humans is to “care for others”.
He spoke of the misrepresentation of Charles Darwin’s oft-quoted “survival of the fittest” principle. What the famed evolution scientist actually meant is that kindness and sympathy are what allow a species to survive. Unless compassion is embraced and fear of others is decreased, i.e each and every one views one another as brother and sister, it would lead to the dark alley of destruction.
Muslim educator and social activist Mrs Jezima Ismail from Sri Lanka attested to the healing power of metta when she spoke of how healed she felt by being at the Metta Convention even though she was suffering the recent loss of her son.
Social activist and crusader against sex trafficking, Dr Sunitha Krishnan from India, said metta:
“personifies the beginning, the journey, the end to open our own hearts with compassion and empathy to bring the most excluded of women and children back into our own hearts to include them as one among us”.
Environmental activist Dr Vandana Shiva, another daughter of India, spoke of how she has dedicated her life in the last 40 years to metta for the earth and that she would “hug the trees” and “you will have to kill us before you kill the tree”.
Social activist and former Indian Police Service Officer Dr Kiran Bedi related of how she introduced metta and vipassana meditation to the men and women in the police force and how it changed them and made them sensitive as “insensitive policemen deliver injustice”.
But it was Sri Lanka’s very own social reformer Dr A T Ariyaratne, the founder of the Sarvodaya Sharmada Movement which has been treading a path of non-violence for the last 56 years, who passionately conveyed what the world needs today.
A man who dwarfs many with his practice of boundless love, Dr Ari said: “This Convention has come at a time when everything is not good …
“Let us make this world a world free from hatred and where respect for all lives is advocated. We Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Muslims can transcend all, and can combine with ancient wisdom and build a new world with metta in our hearts at all times.
“There won’t be peace in the world unless there is peace in our hearts. Let metta heal all the wounds in our hearts to heal the country and everywhere. Let metta prevail in our hearts.”
Metta advocate Bhante Mahinda further reinforced it saying:
“The world needs your help. Your country (Sri Lanka) needs more love. We all need love. In war, we see the worst of humanity. In times of peace, let us come together to bring the best of humanity that can come from pure love and compassion.”
That set the tone, no longer for a meeting of hearts and not just for healing of hearts but for a heartfelt concerted need for metta to pervade. The stage is now set for the world to be in a warm and comforting embrace of metta.
Are you game?