What Is Metta?
The Pali word “metta” is a multi-significant term meaning loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence. Metta is the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others (parahita-parasukha-kamana).
Essentially metta is an altruistic attitude of love and friendliness as distinguished from mere amiability based on self-interest. Through metta one refuses to be offensive and renounces bitterness, resentment and animosity of every kind, developing instead a mind of friendliness, accommodativeness and benevolence which seeks the well-being and happiness of others. True metta is devoid of self-interest. It evokes within a warm-hearted feeling of fellowship, sympathy and love, which grows boundless with practice and overcomes all social, religious, racial, political and economic barriers. Metta is indeed a universal, unselfish and all-embracing love.
Simile Of Metta – A Mother’s Unconditional Love Towards Her One And Only Child
Metta is the protective and immensely patient attitude of a mother who forbears all difficulties for the sake of her child and ever protects it despite its misbehavior. Imagine a mother’s love; when a child is hungry she is watching carefully to feed it before it asks her for it. When the child is in danger, she will risk her own life. Thus in every way she helps her child. Therefore the Buddha asks us to love all beings as a mother loves her only child.
Benefits Of Practicing Metta
In the Metta Sutta, the Buddha said: “Monks, for one whose awareness-release through good will is cultivated, developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, and well-undertaken, eleven benefits can be expected. Which eleven?
“One sleeps easily, wakes easily, dreams no evil dreams. One is dear to human beings, dear to non-human beings. The devas protect one. Neither fire, poison, nor weapons can touch one. One’s mind gains concentration quickly. One’s complexion is bright. One dies unconfused and – if penetrating no higher – is headed for the Brahma worlds.
“These are the eleven benefits that can be expected for one whose awareness-release through good will is cultivated, developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, and well-undertaken.”
One who practises metta accumulates much benefit, namely:
- Metta is the most direct and effective way to overcome ill will and hatred. Ill will and hatred are the most destructive forces in a personal and global sense, causing misery to oneself and others.
- Metta brings happiness and peace within oneself instead of being dependent on external circumstances.
- People get attracted to one who practises metta. One who practises metta makes friends easily.
- One is not affected by abuse of angry persons. Instead one moves to help them overcome their anger.
- Practice of metta moves us to perform wholesome actions – generosity, sila and patience.
- Metta leads to concentration and development of insight wisdom, ultimately leading one to liberation.
- Loving kindness and compassion are the roots of bodhicitta which is the aspiration to attain supreme enlightenment for the sake of oneself and other beings.