Metta Sutta - The Buddha’s Teaching on Loving-kindness
Friday 5 June 2015, by
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The Buddha’s Teaching on Loving-kindness
This is what should be doneBy one who is skilled in goodness,And who knows the path of peace:Let them be able and upright,Straightforward and gentle in speech.Humble and not conceited,Contented and easily satisfied.Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.Peaceful and calm, and wise and skilful,Not proud and demanding in nature.Let them not do the slightest thingThat the wise would later reprove.Wishing: In gladness and in safety,May all beings be at ease.Whatever living beings there may be;Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,The seen and the unseen,Those living near and far away,Those born and to-be-born,May all beings be at ease!Let none deceive another,Or despise any being in any state.Let none through anger or ill-willWish harm upon another.Even as a mother protects with her lifeHer child, her only child,So with a boundless heartShould one cherish all living beings:Radiating kindness over the entire worldSpreading upwards to the skies,And downwards to the depths;Outwards and unbounded,Freed from hatred and ill-will.Whether standing or walking, seated or lying downFree from drowsiness,One should sustain this recollection.This is said to be the sublime abiding.By not holding to fixed views,The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,Being freed from all sense desires,Is not born again into this world.
The Karaṇīya Mettā Sutta (often referred to simply as the Mettā Sutta) is a Buddhist discourse (Pali, sutta) found in the Pali Canon’s Sutta Nipata (Sn 1.8) and Khuddakapatha (Khp 9). Ten verses in length, the Mettā Sutta extols both the virtuous qualities and the meditative development of mettā (Pali), traditionally translated as "lovingkindness" or "friendliness."
In Theravada Buddhism’s Pali Canon, metta is one of the four "divine abodes" (Pali: brahmavihara) recommended for cultivating interpersonal harmony and meditative concentration (see, for instance, kammatthana). In later canonical works (such as the Cariyapitaka), metta is one of ten "perfections" (parami) that facilitates the attainment of awakening (bodhi) and is a prerequisite to attaining buddhahood.
According to post-canonical Sutta Nipata commentary, the background story for the Metta Sutta is that a group of monks is harassed by earth-dwelling deities in a forest; when the monks seek the Buddha’s aid in dealing with the deities, the Buddha teaches the monks the Metta Sutta for them to recite regularly; the monks do so and, as a result, win over the deities’ good will.
The Mettā Sutta contains a number of recollections or recitations that promote the development of mettā through virtuous characteristics and meditation.
The discourse identifies fifteen moral qualities and conditions conducive to the development of metta. These include such qualities as being non-deceptive (uju), sincere (suju), easy to correct (suvaco), gentle (mudu) and without arrogance (anatimani).
In terms of meditative development, the discourse identifies:
an intentional wish that facilitates generating metta (Pali: sukhino va khemino hontu; English: "May all beings be happy and safe")
a means for developing meditational objects (a list of various sizes, proximity, etc.) for such a wish
a prototypical metaphor — of a mother’s protective love for her only child — to be extended to all beings
a method for radiating metta outwards in all directions