TODAY -

The Buddha's METTA (Loving-kindness) and KARUNA (Compassion) for all sentient beings
- Part 1 -

Sanjoo Thangjam *

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon , Myanmar as seen in the last week of March 2017
Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon , Myanmar as seen in the last week of March 2017 :: Pix - WT



The word "Metta" (loving-kindness) is an abstract noun for the word "mitra," meaning friend. However, it is not just friendliness, but the same type of love that is discussed in the Metta Sutta

(Loving-kindness Discourse) :

Just as a mother protects her child,
Her deeply only lovely child, Even as to risk her life for its sake, So toward all living beings May one cultivate boundless loving thoughts.

Metta is an emotion which is non-attaching, non-possessive. The non-attachment aspect of metta implies friendship without sensual affection.

The Buddha encouraged his disciples to practice metta, exhorting them by saying, " Monks, go forth, travelling for the welfare of the multitudes, for the happiness of the of the multitudes, out of Karuna ( compassion ) for the world for the benefit, welfare, and happiness of humans."

The basic instruction of the Buddha is in the " Eightfold Path." The path can be divided into three areas: Disciple, Concentration/Mindfulness, and Wisdom. The steps of the path are all based on Metta (loving-kindness for these promote harmony within society.)

Love guides one:

1.To right understanding;
2. To right thought;
3. To right speech;
4. To right action;
5. To right livelihood;
6. To right effort;
7. To right mindfulness;
8. To right concentration

In Buddhism, metta ( loving-kindness) towards oneself is the important first step. For if you do not have metta for yourself; you cannot give it to others. It is similar to the airline's instructions for you to put on your oxygen mask first and then help your child or another person. It is only practical , for if you pass out from lack of oxygen, you cannot help anyone.

The Buddha's boundless metta extended not only to human beings, but to all living creatures. The Metta Sutta ( Loving-kindness Discourse) is found in the earliest collection of Suttas.

It says:
May all beings be happy and secure.
May they all have happy and healthy minds.
May all beings, whatever they may be, Weak or strong, long, stout, medium or short, Small or large, seen or unseen, Living close by or far away, Already born or yet to be born, May they all have happy and healthy minds.

Venerable Piyadassi wrote in The Buddha's Ancient Path that metta is an active force. Every act done with the pure mind to help, succor, cheer, to make the paths of others easier, smoother, and more adaptable for the elimination of sorrow was metta in action. The performance of such acts would enable them to attain the highest bliss.

One way to help develop metta is by contemplating the disadvantages, of anger/ hate versus the advantages of not having anger/hate (of having loving-kindness). Thoroughly investigating the effects of hate versus the benefits of loving-kindness, it becomes clear that one should develop loving-kindness.

Thoroughly investigating the effects of hate versus the benefits of loving-kindness, it becomes clear that one should develop loving-kindness.

(To be continued)


* Sanjoo Thangjam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a lay Buddhist & human rights activist for 'People Who Use Drugs'
This article was posted on October 09, 2017.


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