Loving Kindness (Metta)

Loving Kindness (Metta)

Every Sunday on my ride to meditation I repeat the following:
I offer loving kindness to Myself,
May I be free from fear and sorrow
May I be free from anger and confusion
May I be free from remorse and regret
May I be filled with joy and with love
May I be filled with wisdom and with understanding
May I be filled with compassion and with tolerance
May I be well and happy and may she be at peace.
I start with myself, then for my wife, each of my 3 children then on to my mother, brothers, sisters, their spouses and children, etc.

In Theravada Buddhism there are what are known as the Four Brahmaviharas or the Four Virtues. In Pali they are –
Metta – Loving Kindness
Karuna – Compassion
Mudita – Sympathetic Joy
Upekha – Equanimity

The first Brahmavihar is Metta or Loving Kindness.
The Buddha taught on Metta in the Karaniya Sutra.

Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Hymn of Universal Love
Who seeks to promote his welfare,
Having glimpsed the state of perfect peace,
Should be able, honest and upright,
Gentle in speech, meek and not proud.

Contented, he ought to be easy to support,
Not over-busy, and simple in living.
Tranquil his senses, let him be prudent,
And not brazen, nor fawning on families.

Also, he must refrain from any action
That gives the wise reason to reprove him.
(Then let him cultivate the thought:)
May all be well and secure,
May all beings be happy!

Whatever living creatures there be,
Without exception, weak or strong,
Long, huge or middle-sized,
Or short, minute or bulky,

Whether visible or invisible,
And those living far or near,
The born and those seeking birth,
May all beings be happy!

Let none deceive or decry
His fellow anywhere;
Let none wish others harm
In resentment or in hate.

Just as with her own life
A mother shields from hurt
Her own son, her only child,
Let all-embracing thoughts
For all beings be yours.

Cultivate an all-embracing mind of love
For all throughout the universe,
In all its height, depth and breadth —
Love that is untroubled
And beyond hatred or enmity.

As you stand, walk, sit or lie,
So long as you are awake,
Pursue this awareness with your might:
It is deemed the Divine State here.

Holding no more to wrong beliefs,
With virtue and vision of the ultimate,
And having overcome all sensual desire,
Never in a womb is one born again.

I think I mentioned a few months ago that now that I work in the city I go out for a walk sometimes at lunch to see the sites. Often I would walk along with my mind wandering, sometimes judging those who passed by, often self reflecting on how I looked just in case people were judging me.
I’ve decided instead to walk the streets offering loving kindness for everyone who crossed my eyesight. Sort of like a roving Wi-Fi hot spot of loving kindness.

Sometimes this is the only useful thing we can do with our time.

Gandhi said, “every minute we should ask ourselves how will our next action help all beings”.
If you are unable to do anything more meaningful in any given moment, the least you can do is offer Loving Kindness for someone, even yourself.

In many ways Metta is like a prayer. It is an “intention” or an “earnest request or wish”.

There are cloistered religious in monasteries around the world who do nothing but offer prayer for different causes and intentions.

In Theravada or Vippassana mediation they often teach many forms of skillful means. When the mind is raging and roaming you sometimes need something less subtle then your breathe to focus on. In vipassana they use hand movements, body scans and Metta.
Metta is similar to Tonglin, breathing in the pain of the world and breathing out loving Kindness.
There are many variations in wording of the Loving kindness Meditation. I choose one that speaks to mental states (fear, sorrow, anger, confusion, remorse, regret, joy, love, wisdom, understanding, compassion, tolerance) instead of physical state (may they never break a leg, may they win a million dollars).
In addition to the use of different words there are different areas of focus or “Radiations”.

Generalized Radiation
The five ways of generalized radiation are as follows:
l. “May all beings (sabbe satta) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
2. “May all those that breathe (sabbe pana) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
3. “May all creatures (sabbe bhuta) be free from hostility, free from affliction. free from distress; may they live happily.”
4. “May all those with individual existence (sabbe puggala) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
5. “May all those who are embodied (sabbe attabhavapariyapanna) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
Specified Radiation
The seven ways of specified radiation are as follows:
1. “May all females (sabba itthiyo) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
2. “May all males (sabbe purisa) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
3. “May all the Noble Ones (sabbe ariya) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
4. “May all worldlings (sabbe anariya) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
5. “May all gods (sabbe deva) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
6. “May all human beings (sabbe manussa) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
7. “May all those in states of woe (sabbe vinipatika) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”

Directional Radiation
The ten ways of directional radiation involve sending thoughts of metta to all beings in the ten directions. This method, in its basic form, is applied to the class of beings (satta), the first of the five generalized objects of metta. But it can be developed further by extending metta through each of the five ways of generalized radiation and the seven ways of specified radiation, as we will see.

1. “May all beings in the eastern direction be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
2. “May all beings in the western direction be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
3. “May all beings in the northern direction be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
4. “May all beings in the southern direction be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
5. “May all beings in the northeastern direction be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
6. “May all beings in the southwestern direction be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
7. “May all beings in the northwestern direction be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
8. “May all beings in the southeastern direction be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
9. “May all beings below (in the downward direction) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”
10. “May all beings above (in the upward direction) be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.”

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