The last time I thought about doing metta meditation, I thought to myself:
wait a minute, I’m having thoughts about someone who has already changed from what I thought they were (anicca) … furthermore, there is no me or them (anatta)… this loving-kindness practice is attempting to etch false ideas about the nature of reality and personal self that are demonstrably false if you simply do insight meditation long enoughMe
There’s really nothing more to say. Once you understand the doctrine of impermanence in Buddhism (anicca) and the doctrine of no-self in Buddhism (anatta), it logically follows that any metta meditation that is having you visualize this person or that person is leading you away from realization of anicca and anatta. Because the person has changed due the doctrine of anicca and there really is no other person based on the doctrine of anatta.
A Better Metta?
In the typical metta, you bring up certain people and say “may no harm come to you, may no difficulty come to you”… but I did learn a different metta meditation at Madre Grande Monastery in Dulzura, CA. And there what did we do? Well, we visualized a gold ball full of the same feeling you would have for a newborn infant. Since then I’ve concluded that we should have the same feeling for someone passing away. At any rate, we simply radiate that feeling out as far as possible. This is nice because we arent having to think of someone in violation of anicca and anatta. We are just radiating.
I brought up this dilemma in a reddit thread entitled “Am I overthinking things? I bring up some objections to traditional metta practice on the grounds that it suggests to you concepts that violate anicca and anatta” and got some good feedback.