The thought occurred to me today that I wish to be awakened, unbound, free. The thought had the form “I want…” and I quickly saw the quality of craving in the thought. Craving freedom is a somewhat paradoxical stance and can only serve as a hinderance. The thought was truly a wish with a wholesome intention, though, and something else occurred to me then: “May I be free”. May I be free is one of the very common Metta phrases… it is formulated to avoid the craving, but expresses the same wholesome intention.
I tried out all of the phrases in my typical metta series — with enlightenment as the overtone for each and came up with an interesting ‘second meaning’ for each of the phrases.
May I be happy [may sukkha arise]
May I be peaceful [may I be full of equanimity]
May I be healthy [may I choose right action and right effort]
May I be free from inner and outer harm [may I cease to create the conditions that cause harm or continue to feed the wheel of samsara and the cycle of dependent co-arising]
May I have ease of being [may I be free of past conditioning & causes of suffering]
May I be free [and know remainderless fading; release]
I did Metta practice on the cushion this morning, allowing these secondary meanings to arise with each phrase. Inviting sukkha, equanimity, right effort, right understanding, compassion and release in this repetitive series was interesting. On my commute, I used the same sequence, but included my fellow commuters, as I often do.
I will have to play with this more. Given some time, space and effort, this practice could really help manifest these wholesome and helpful qualities and do so in a way that doesn’t involve clinging or grasping.