Yesterday, fifteen people took nearly four hours out of their weekend to attend the Introductory Afternoon -- practicing sitting and walking meditation, learning a bit of the history of Buddhism, chanting metta, talking about how to take the practices into everyday life. And time and again the concern came up, Is it selfish to take time for myself like this? Is it OK to direct lovingkingness to me?
History is full of examples of the one calm person who made a difference -- Father Kolbe, Otto Schindler, Sujata, Mohandis Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Captain "Sully" Sullenberger, Aung San Suu Kyi, the 4th person (the monk) whom Prince Shakyamuni observed walking placidly amid sickness, old age and death. It's not so much that these people heroically saved lives (some of them did), but that they gave courage to others to live, or to face death with equanimity, knowing they were not alone.
We practice for all beings, yet we often forget that we are one of those, too. Endless giving outward breeds resentment inward, and taints the giving. There's a persistent, tenacious, covert belief that I am not metta-worthy, that I really don't deserve happiness and tranquility.
Get over it. Deserving, worthiness has nothing to do with it. We don't have happiness and tranquility, we are them. We just forget that sometimes. The purpose of zazen isn't to develop or get anything. The purpose of zazen is to give us a chance to remember what we are in the first place, to come home to our true heart, and to see therein our original kind face.